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Local Students Win National Honors For Award-Winning Art

(Grossmont, June 9, 2005) — Eleven local students have received recognition for their creative work in the AAA National School Traffic Safety Poster Contest.

Letizia Perez Tejada Hernandez, a seventh grader at Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy in Calexico, earned a first place award and $300 for her poster depicting the traffic safety theme "Driving Distractions." Her teacher is Laura Ochoa. Four other students from Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy were honored. Anna-Claire Leon, grade five, earned a Merit Citation for her poster depicting the theme "Buckle Up." Her teacher is Graciela Gonzalez. Judges Awards were won by Ana Luisa Perez Tejada, grade six, and Lilian Velarde, grade eight, for their posters depicting the theme "Driving Distractions."

Four students from Christ Lutheran School in La Mesa were honored for their posters depicting the theme "Driving Distractions." Merit Citations were awarded to Cassie Whiteaker, grade 7, and Courtney Kazemier, grade 8. Their teacher is Casey Sitze. Judges Awards were won by eighth graders Malia Lacangan and Samantha Silva. In addition, Kevin Chu, grade 7, of Lewis Middle School in San Diego received a Judges Award for depicting the same traffic safety theme. His teacher is Cheryl Converse-Rath.

Two students from Flying Hills Elementary School in El Cajon were presented were Judges Awards for depicting the safety theme "Buckle Up." They are Kalie Sullivan, grade 4, taught by Marci Knoles and Gabriela Menegus, grade five, whose teacher is Cynthia Stolis.

"Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among children and young people," said Marria Porter, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Grossmont 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," Porter 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


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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.