Dana Ortega, a senior at Boyd-Buchanan High School, won the statewide Fire Prevention Week poster contest for her grade level last week.
She won the local competition in October, and the Chattanooga Fire Department sponsored her advancement to the state competition.
In the state fire marshal’s annual banquet to honor winners of the youth poster contest, youths from kindergarten through 12th grade were praised for using creativity and skill to encourage their communities to be more fire-safe.
Julie Mix McPeak, state fire marshal and Department of Commerce and Insurance commissioner, addressed the adults attending the banquet before the winners were awarded their prizes: “Think about one of the roles of a parent and a grown-up—it is our job to make sure our children understand to respect and avoid the things that could harm or endanger them. This poster contest goes beyond that goal by getting our children to think of ways to warn their families about fire hazards in the home.
“It is evident that the young people whose work is arrayed here today gave a lot of thought to this year’s contest theme on home-escape plans—Have Two Ways Out—and its importance, as well as to finding creative techniques to share that message,” McPeak said.
The other winners were:
—Peyton Griffin, White Bluff Elementary School, kindergarten (sponsored by Claylick Fire Department)
—MacCade Partt, Rock Creek Elementary School, first grade (sponsored by Estill Springs Volunteer Fire Department)
—Bryson Bilbrey, York Elementary School, second grade (sponsored by Fentress County Fire Department)
—Hayden Shirley, Holice Powell Elementary School, third grade (sponsored by Dyer County Fire Department)
—Harley McNeal, Covington Integrated Arts Academy, fourth grade (sponsored by Covington Fire Department)
—Connor Tacker, Tara Oaks Elementary School, fifth grade (sponsored by Collierville Fire and Rescue)
—Katie Mae Talley, Dickson Middle School, sixth grade (sponsored by Dickson Fire Department)
—Mackenzie McNeal, Crestview Middle School, seventh grade (sponsored by Covington Fire Department)
—Ryan Stark, Bon Lin Middle School, eighth grade (sponsored by Bartlett Fire Department)
—Courtney Tipton, St. George's Independent School, ninth grade (sponsored by Collierville Fire and Rescue)
—Ivy Edwards, Collierville High School, 10th grade (sponsored by Collierville Fire and Rescue)
—Justine Poulin, Alcoa High School, 11th grade (sponsored by Alcoa Fire Department)
—Dana Ortega, Boyd-Buchanan High School, 12th grade (sponsored by Chattanooga Fire Department)
The state fire marshal's office educates children about fire safety every year by conducting the annual fire safety poster contest, which is open to all students from kindergarten through 12th grades. The participants will be honored at a luncheon led by McPeak and the Fire Prevention Division staff in a few months.
McPeak also selected Jessie Prince, a fifth-grader from Decherd Elementary School and sponsored by the Decherd Fire Department, for her Commissioner’s Choice Award. The Fire Educator of the Year Award went to the Gallatin Fire Department Fire Safety Clown Troop, comprised of P.J. Bradford, Matt Stringer, Matt Robison, Dustin Dunn, Mark Hall, Rick Donely and Johnny Smith.
The contest received 278 poster entries this year from 102 schools. Last year, 238 posters were received from 82 schools.
Officials said the contest itself has also grown, garnering judging from outside experts instead of by employees, as was done in the past. This year, the judges were Andrea Steele of the Renaissance Center (and formerly of the Frist Center for Visual Arts); Justin Makemson of Belmont University’s Art Department; and Philip Kreger, who is the director of exhibits at the State Museum.