EAST LAKE — The Council of North County Neighborhoods recognized eight local school students for their ideas addressing a common but hazardous problem.
The CNCN’s 2014 Student Essay Contest concluded with Monday evening’s award ceremony at East Lake Methodist Church.
This year’s prompt asked third–, fourth- and fifth-graders at Brooker Creek Elementary and sixth–, seventh- and eighth-graders at Carwise Middle to present ideas that would help reduce accidents with deer on local roadways.
Especially given the age range of the students involved, solutions varied widely and CNCN board of directors member Ronda Musca said she couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.
“I can’t tell you how excited I was about this essay contest was because I take a personal interest in the wildlife in this area,” she said. “The children have more incredible ideas than a lot of us adults. They’re so creative and there’s nothing holding them back.”
Suggestions included distributing information and tips to area residents, hosting a deer festival before deer season to raise awareness and posting alerts either along roadways or to mobile devices when there are a deer sightings.
Even the perhaps more impractical solutions submitted by some younger writers were thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by the judges, Musca said. These included strategically stationing alligators along roads to discourage deer from getting too close, or “lightly” shooting the deer with microchips so sensors placed along the road would flash when triggered.
“I really enjoyed them and I loved the creativity,” Musca said. “Children are the key to our future and they can help keep their parents driving safely.”
Certificates and prizes were awarded to the contest winners Monday, with checks ranging from $100–25 going to those who placed first through honorable mention.
Carwise Middle’s honorable mention winners were Hunter Young and Natalie Abele, 7th grade. Lucas Wilson, 7th grade, placed fourth; Matthew Taylor, 6th grade, placed third; Katie Waldron, 7th grade, placed second; and Paul Phillips, 7th grade, placed first.
Brooker Creek Elementary’s Eden Zdravko, 4th grade, won first place in the third–//-throug-fifth-grade category and Haley Holets, 3rd grade, placed second.
Phillips and Zdravko both read their winning essays to the audience.
Following the award ceremony, the CNCN held a town hall meeting featuring three local politicians.
State Sen. Jack Latvala, R–Clearwater, and state Reps. Carl Zimmerman, D–Palm Harbor, and James Grant, R–Tampa, were present to discuss the 2014 legislative session and any matters that may affect residents of North Pinellas.