All throughout Solano County, children ages 5 through 14 were asked to submit drawings to Solano Safe Routes to School's “Think Outside the Car” poster contest, encouraging students to walk, bike or ride their scooters to school. Students in Benicia were among those who took runners-up and honorable mention.
Safe Routes to School is a program put on by Solano Transportation Authority to encourage students to find alternate routes to school beyond having their parents drive them. Alternatives include walking, riding bikes or taking public transit, which STA believes not only improves students' health and well-being but also cuts down on air pollution and traffic congestion.
The contest not only acted as a public service announcement to parents and fellow classmates but also demonstrated the artistic talent and creativity of Solano's youth.
“The Safe Routes to School program received so many wonderful and creative entries,” Fairfield Mayor Harry Price said in a statement. “129 students from 23 schools throughout the county entered the contest.”
Benicia Unified School District students were honored in all three categories. Xavier Parra, a first-grader from Joe Henderson Elementary, took runner-up in the transitional kindergarten through second-grade category. Ryder De Lago, a fourth-grader from Matthew Turner Elementary took runner-up in the third through fifth-grade category. Finally, Justin Gallardo, an eighth-grader at Benicia Middle School, recived an honorable mention in the sixth through eighth-grade category.
The big winners in each category were Umar Vasani, a second-grader at Wardlaw Elemntary in Vallejo; Josiah Lacy, a fourth-grader at Crescent Elementary in Suisun City; and Samantha Guinn, a seventh-grader at the Public Safety Academy in Fairfield. Honorable mentions also went to Sierra Christiansen, a first-grader at Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy; and Grace Miller, a fourth-grader at Cordelia Hills Elementary in Fairfield. Karina Ceja-Escobedo, a seventh-grader at Public Safety Academy, rounded out the honorees with a runner-up award in the sixth through eighth-grade category.
Price and Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez announced the first-place winners over the air on Vacaville adult contemporary station KUIC.
“I was impressed at how well the winning entries best showed the benefits of walking, biking or riding a scooter to school,” Sanchez said. “The kids really did a great job.”