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5th grade students receive Award of Distinction

By Staff | Mar 30, 2016

Fifth grade students Preston Hall and Matthew Dunn. Dunn is holding his design of a manatee, which has been turned into a front-end license plate. MEGHAN MCCOY

Two Sanibel School 5th grade students received an Award of Distinction for entering the county’s first license plate design contest.

Sanibel School Gifted and Art Teacher Tylor Stewart said she offered the Kids Tag Art program to 12 of her gifted 5th grade students. The students had the opportunity to create whatever design their heart desired within a blank template that was provided to them.

The Kids Tag Art program began in Florida in 2002, after Polk County Tax Collector Joe Tedder got his staff involved in the Great American Teach-In, which invites community leaders into classrooms. His chief deputy of administration visited Valleyview Elementary School in South Lakeland where he presented 5th grade students with the opportunity to create speciality license plate artwork.

Since its inception, the program became adopted by several other Florida tax collectors, generating more than 60,000 pieces of artwork that raised more than $350,000 for art programs in the classroom.

The Lee County School District, the Lee County Tax Collector’s Office and the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools introduced the program to the 5th grade students during the 2015 school year.

Preston Hall’s drawing includes a large mouth bass and Atlantic sailfish. PHOTO PROVIDED

“We plan on having this as an annual thing,” Beverly Burke, director of programs for the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools said. “We hope to start it in the fall next year. It’s been a big hit.”

Forty-two elementary schools in Lee County out of 49 participated in the program, resulting in almost 2,700 students.

Burke said teachers at each of the schools submitted five of their best students work, which was then given to judges to determine the top two winners of each school.

“Both students are talented and have had work in shows,” Stewart said. “The fact that they do research on their Chrome Books to enhance their drawings is great. They have a great color sense and natural ability.”

Matthew Dunn and Preston Hall were the winners for The Sanibel School.

Matthew said he chose to draw a manatee for his design because they are endangered to Florida and areas around Florida. Before he began drawing the manatee he looked at three different pictures of the sea cow that showcased an upwards depiction, sideways and another view.

He said he was “pretty much excited” when he found out his front license plate design won.

As a winner, he was given two free tickets to a Minnesota Twins baseball game today. An awards ceremony is also being planned for the students who received the Award of Distinction for the Kids Tag Art Program.

Preston said his idea stemmed from looking up the Florida state fish. He decided to do a split scene showcasing the large mouth bass and Atlantic sailfish.

As a fisherman, Preston said he has caught a lot of large mouth bass, but never an Atlantic sailfish.

“I looked at pictures of the fish and a few other pictures for background,” he said when filling in the license plate template.

Preston was excited when he found out he received the Award of Distinction. He said he was really excited about the project because he likes drawing animals and fish.

The public will have the opportunity to purchase the front-end tags at www.leetc.com. The proceeds will benefit art programs for the Lee County School System.

Students from The Sanibel School will also participate in the 22nd annual LAEA Invitational Student Art Exhibit at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers. The show opens Wednesday, April 6 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The students masterpieces – Duck Stamp, one point perspective, collage, color wheel, still life and painting projects will remain up until April 15.

The Sanibel School middle school students who will be featured include Anna Wells, Livia Von Wowern, Sophia DeCosta, Kianna Toothman, Gabby Miltner and Brian Hartman.

Fifth graders include Matthew Dunn and Riley Johnson.

Fourth graders include Arianna Alves and Stella Black.

Third graders include Ari Zindell, Tony Underwood and Caden Suslick.

Second graders include Kyler Kouril, Kate Sawicki and Anna Kilgore.

First graders include Millie Zindell and D.J. Jenkins.

Kindergardeners include Oliver Wilkinson, Madden Johnson, Eden Fautz, Dylan Stevens and Elton Von Wowern.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.