The art of driving safely – and without distraction – is clearly in the hands of kids. Proving this point, students from St. Aloysius School in New Canaan and Brookside Elementary school in Norwalk were recently named winners of the 2011 AAA Safety Poster Contest.
The first place winner was seventh grader Julianna Somma, of St. Aloyisuis. Brookside Elementary School fourth grader Lila Smith won a second place award, while Adeniji Taiwo, a St. Aloyisuis eighth grader, took home the award for third place.
Bonnie Wilczynski, St. Aloyisuis's art teacher for the past 15 years, is proud of her students for their achievements, although she points out that, leaving aside their awards, she has used the contest each year to teach them about safety. "It's my opportunity to help kids learn on an age-appropriate level, about what's important in keeping them safe," she says. "From helping them to remember to walk facing traffic, to always sitting down on a school bus or to never applying makeup while behind the wheel, I make the safety poster contest an entire unit so that they have an opportunity to really learn."
Every year, says Wilczynski, her students have been acknowledged for their work on both state and national levels. St. Aloysiuis School, says AAA's Fran Mayko, is a "powerhouse."
The theme of this year's posters was, "How to be a good passenger." Julianna came up with the slogan, "Stop! Focus on driving NOT texting." Adeniji's slogan was, "Volume down; Alert Level Up." Both highlighted the dangers of distracted driving.
The students received certificates and a $300 and $100 American Express Gift Cards.
More than 300 students from schools in Fairfield County participated in the contest, which AAA Southern New England conducts annually to generate a greater awareness of safe traffic practices among elementary and high school students.