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Kids Tag Art program winners recognized

By Staff | Mar 4, 2020

Fifth grade students in the Lee County School District recently were recognized as Award of Distinction winners for their license plate designs. Their art teachers also received $800, which will go back into the schools art program.

Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart said the original Kids Tag Art program began with the Polk County Tax Collectors office after finding out the art program was not being funded. He said other Tax Collectors Offices across the state got involved.

“Kids need a break sometimes from English, math and history just to be creative,” Hart said. “We thought it would be a worthy program, especially when teachers were buying things out of their own pockets. We engaged our community leaders to get involved. We have been doing it for the last five years.”

The fifth annual Kids Tag Art recognition event, which was held Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the School District of Lee County headquarters, had more than 300 people, teachers and families in attendance. Two students from each of the 49 participating Lee County elementary schools were recognized for their artwork for the Award of Distinction.

This year 3,600 students submitted license plate designs for the theme “Sun and Fun.”

Each of the plates from the Award of Distinction winners can be purchased as a specialty front-end license plate at www.leetc.com. The proceeds go back to the participating schools’ art programs.

In addition to the award, each participating Lee County art teacher was given a check for $800.

Since 2016, Hart said Lee County has been able to raise $150,000 to give back to the school teachers.

“We were able to give each teacher $800 this year and $800 last year,” he said. “I think the teachers love the program and really value the program. It makes it a lot easier for them because they can be creative throughout the school year without worrying about where the funding is coming from. It gives them flexibility. They don’t have to pay for the materials out of their pockets.”

The Lee County Tax Collector’s office works with the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools for the Kids Tag Art Program.

“Being a government agency we have to find a nonprofit agency to partner with and the foundation seemed like the right partner,” Hart said.

Foundation for Lee County Public Schools President and CEO Marshall Bower said when his good friend Hart called and asked him about the program, he saw the huge benefit for students and teachers after a quick meeting was held.

“I saw the benefits from the two different sides. It’s a huge benefit for our students to get exposed to how art plays a real role in the real world. It’s a great opportunity to get money back into the classrooms,” he said.

Bower said every year during the awards ceremony it shows just how special the Kids Tag Art program has become.

“You get to see the pride and enthusiasm they have about the whole project. It just puts a smile on your face,” he said of the student and family.

Bower said they know through data that many times art is the hook that gets students interested in school, which is a good thing. Data also shows that when students are doing art they do better in math and science.

“It engages that part of your brain that makes you think constructively and programmatically,” Bower said.

When doing art, he said you have to plan it out and decide what you are going to put down on a piece of paper and how it is going to work.

“Those are qualities you need to have when studying for math and science,” Bower said.

The other side is returning $800 to the schools.

“That is a lot of money. A lot of supplies to buy with $800. Most teachers go digging in their own pockets. It helps alleviate some of that,” he said. “It’s the circular gift that keeps on giving.”

Kids Tag Art has raised $1.7 million statewide.

This year Award of Distinction winners include:

Cape Coral

* Caloosa Elementary School: Ana C. and Allie O.

* Cape Elementary School: Bill L. and Ashley A.

* Diplomat Elementary School: Jennifer N. and Zayvion D.

* Gulf Elementary School: Sophia S. and Kailee H.

* Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School: Briseis W. and Kayleigh D.

* Patriot Elementary School: Madison S. and Obrie O.

* Pelican Elementary School: Jair C. and Valerie A.

* Skyline Elementary School: Lacie B. and Lyla B.

* Trafalgar Elementary School: Ashley R. and Katie P.

Fort Myers Beach

* Fort Myers Beach Elementary School: Kayla W. and Desirae M.

Lehigh Acres

* Harns Marsh Elementary School: Alex C. and Teygan F.

* Lehigh Elementary School: Logan L. and Christopher A.

* Mirror Lakes Elementary School: Yazmin P. and Davinci B.

* Sunshine Elementary School: Nayaidis A and Samantha C.

* Tortuga Preserve Elementary School: Akili P. and Vanessa G.

* Veterans Park Academy for the Arts: Jacoby H. and Evangeline B.

North Fort Myers

* Bayshore Elementary School: Sophia C. and Grace P.

* Dr. Carrie D. Robinson Littleton Elementary School: Maliyah P. and Meghan F.

* Hancock Creek Elementary School: Jayden M. and Payton W.

* J. Colin English Elementary School: Lillyana A. and Phoenix

* North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts: Lya T. and Andy R.

* Tropic Isles Elementary School: Kayrih G. and Roslyn H.

Pine Island

* Pine Island Elementary School: Alyssa D. and Anna B.

Sanibel

* The Sanibel School: Olivia K. and Madison B.