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West Jordan Journal

Riverside students claim top spots in Arbor Day poster contest

May 11, 2020 02:15PM ● By Jet Burnham

Artwork of Arbor Day poster contest winners from Riverside Elementary School. (Photo of artwork courtesy of Jordan School District)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Student artists from Riverside Elementary won half of the top prizes in the Utah Division of Forestry Annual Arbor Day Poster Contest. Four students, Danny Haws, Lucia Berber, Nora Foote and Leila Kofeloa, took the top award in their grade level out of 250 entries statewide.

“We were really shocked,” said Jeran Farley, urban and community forestry coordinator. “Judges have no idea where any of the posters are from. After they judged them, we were shocked that four of them were from the same school.”

Riverside Elementary Media Assistant Carla Nelson encourages all students to enter the contest because it creates environmental awareness and is a great opportunity for students to showcase their artistic talents.

“They just get excited about it because it's fun to hang their artwork up,” Nelson said. Unfortunately, no one will get to enjoy the winners’ work on display at the school, which is now empty.

“The sad thing is that they announced the winners three days after they closed the school,” Nelson said. “We had all of our school winners hanging up in the hallway so the kids got to see those. They knew who won from our school, but they didn't get to see the state winners.”

Normally, state winners’ artwork is framed and displayed at Red Butte Gardens. Winners are invited to participate in the state Arbor Day ceremony where they shake hands with Smokey Bear and help plant a tree. But this year’s winners won’t be able to do any of that due to social distancing measures.

Farley said he is working on a way to recognize students for their creative work but feels students have still benefitted from their participation this year.

“The purpose is to make school children more aware of the benefit of trees,” he said.

This year’s theme was “Trees are Terrific No Matter Where You Live!”

Riverside previously had an art specialist that gave students tips on how to draw trees, said Nelson. This year, students used their own creativity and personal style to interpret the theme.

Leila, who is blind, was chosen as the winner of the Special Needs categories. She created a poster, with the help of her teachers, of what she imagines trees look like.

Danny, the winner of the kindergarten division, drew himself and his house on his poster, using his favorite colors: orange and blue.  

“Danny worked really hard on this and took it very seriously,” said his mother, Lyndsie Haws. “We are just happy he gets to see that his hard work paid off.”