Local Students Win National Honors For Award-Winning Art

(Downey, June 17, 2005) — Eight local students have received recognition for their creative work in the AAA National School Traffic Safety Poster Contest.

Richard Canning, a fifth grader at Escalona Elementary School in La Mirada, earned a first place award and $300 for his poster depicting the traffic safety theme "Buckle Up." His teacher is Patricia Dwight.

Megan Guzman, a fifth grader at Escalona Elementary, received a Merit Citation for depicting the theme "Buckle Up." Matthew Guzman, grade 7 of Los Coyotes Middle School in La Mirada, also received a Merit Citation depicting the traffic safety theme "Driving Distractions." His Teacher is Barbara Petersen. Nichelle Valle, a fifth grader at St. Raymond School in Downey, received a Merit Citation for her poster depicting the theme "Buckle Up." Her teacher is Danielle Rush.

Elliot Esfahanian, grade five of St. Raymond, received a Judges Award for depicting the theme "Buckle Up." Two fifth graders from State Street Elementary School in South Gate, Alfonso Herrera and Elizabeth Tejada, received Judges Awards for depicting the theme "Buckle Up." Their teacher is Judy Ann Sanchez. Jose Portillo, grade nine of Paramount High School, received a Judges Award for his poster depicting the traffic safety theme "Alcohol Awareness." His teacher is Moses Prado.

"Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among children and young people," said Hend Hasrouni, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Downey office. "During 2002 in California, 141 young people ages five through 14 were killed and 23,383 were injured in traffic collisions. For teen drivers and passengers, ages 15 through 19, there were 37,698 killed or injured in auto crashes. The contest allows kindergartners to 12th graders to use their creativity to interpret safety messages that could save many lives."

The Auto Club reproduces some of the winning posters and distributes them free of charge to schools throughout Southern California to remind students about traffic safety issues.

"Thousands of students enter the poster competition every year," Hasrouni said. "And all of the students help AAA bring important but often overlooked traffic safety messages to the forefront. The competition emphasizes the essential role education plays in these issues.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has been serving members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at www.aaa.com.