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Safety contest winners announced

(May 8, 2017) - 

The votes have been tallied and Metra today announced the news that school-age children across the region have been waiting for – the names of the winners of its 2017 Safety Poster and Essay Contest.

Each year, Metra invites students in grades K-12 throughout its six-county service area to submit poster designs and essays highlighting the importance of railroad safety. This year, Metra received more than 2,000 entries. Students created artwork and wrote essays around the theme “Keep Yourself(ies) Safe: Look, Listen, Live.”

The contest, which is in its 11th year, enables students to use their creativity to take ownership of the safety message by creating posters and essays that are used by Metra in its safety campaigns. The winners were selected through a three-round judging process with the finalists judged by a panel of 22 that included government officials, representatives from safety and education advocacy groups, business and community leaders, law enforcement, media and railroad professionals.

“Not being aware of our surroundings can have serious consequences, especially near railroad tracks,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “However, a disturbing trend of young people using railroad tracks as a backdrop for their photos makes this year’s theme especially timely. We wanted students across the region to understand the danger and to take up the message that the tracks are not a safe backdrop for their selfies or any activity. The winners of this contest have done a great job of communicating this message.”

First-, second- and third-place winners were chosen from each grade level in elementary school, middle school and high school. First-place poster and essay contest winners receive an iPad, while second- and third-place poster contest winners receive $250 and $100 gift cards, respectively.

A People’s Choice Award winner will also be selected. Members of the general public can select their favorite poster from this year’s first-place winners by voting here. Voting for People’s Choice will be available online through midnight Friday, June 9. The artist who garners the most votes will receive an additional $250 prize. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be announced at the June 21 meeting of the Metra Board of Directors.

Metra also recognizes the school with the most entries submitted in the poster contest. This year’s winner is Chicago’s Rachel Carson Elementary with 471 entries. In honor of this achievement, the school will receive a computer for use in the classroom.

The following were chosen as winners of the 2017 Safety Poster and Essay Contest:

Top Participating School

Rachel Carson Elementary, Chicago


First Place Essay

K-4 Division — Rumaysa Siddiqui, 3rd Grade, Parkwood Elementary, Hanover Park

5-8 Division — Colin Ciaccio, 6th Grade, Fremont Middle School, Mundelein

9-12 Division — Kate Hoekstra, 10th Grade, Lyons Township H.S. (South Campus), Western Springs


First Place Poster

Kindergarten — Evelyn Kuzmik, Kingsley Elementary, Naperville

1st Grade   — Aaron Ahn, White Eagle Elementary, Naperville

2nd Grade —  Nina Pepel, Grace Wayne Elementary, Batavia

3rd Grade —   Habin Park, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

4th Grade —   Alina Qian, Prairie Elementary, Buffalo Grove

5th Grade —   David Aranda, Parkwood Elementary, Hanover Park

6th Grade —   Madeline Oh, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

7th Grade —   Karen Ga-Eun Lee, Twin Groves Middle School, Buffalo Grove

8th Grade —   Yegor Baranovski, Thayer J. Hill Middle School, Naperville

9th Grade —   Alex Walker, Oak Park River Forest H.S., Oak Park

10th Grade — Kate Hoekstra, Lyons Township H.S. (South Campus), Western Springs

11th Grade —  Seowon Lee, Adlai E. Stevenson H.S., Lincolnshire

12th Grade —  Grace Fox, Oak Park River Forest H.S., Oak Park


Second Place Poster

Kindergarten — Hyunseo Ahn, Meadowbrook Elementary, Northbrook

1st Grade —    Levi Boyle, Lincoln Elementary, St. Charles

2nd Grade —  Kate Levenshteyn, Earl Pritchett Elementary, Buffalo Grove

3rd Grade —   Elle Anderson, Geneva Christian School, Geneva

4th Grade —   Lillian Wang, Prairie Elementary, Buffalo Grove

5th Grade —   Evan Benz, Washington Elementary, Evanston

6th Grade —   Juliana Craven, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

7th Grade —   Sythia Cao, Madison Junior High, Naperville

8th Grade —   Charles Choi, Thomas Middle School, Arlington Heights

9th Grade —   Helenna Gu, Naperville North H.S., Naperville

10th Grade — Janet Pak, Prospect H.S., Mount Prospect

11th Grade —  Shane Murabito, Victor Andrew H.S., Tinley Park

12th Grade —  Emily Valade, Crystal Lake Central H.S., Crystal Lake


Third Place Poster

Kindergarten — Alishba Siddiqui, Laurel Hill Elementary, Hanover Park

1st Grade —    Kaya Matsunaga, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

2nd Grade —  Benjamin Kuzmik, Kingsley Elementary, Naperville

3rd Grade —   Sky Hana, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

4th Grade —   Ava Prosko, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

5th Grade —   Aleksandra Baranovski, May Watts Elementary, Naperville

6th Grade —   Michael Choi, Thomas Middle School, Arlington Heights

7th Grade —   Dylan Tran, Lincoln Elementary, Lincolnwood

8th Grade —   Julia Petrea, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

9th Grade —   Janna Jann, Downers Grove South H.S., Downers Grove

10th Grade — Gabrielle Alyssa E Vidal, Central H.S., Burlington, IL

11th Grade — Janet Wang, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

12th Grade — Josh Lanhan, Bolingbrook H.S., Bolingbrook


Honorable Mention Essay

K-4 Division — Khadija Mahad, 3rd Grade, Al Huda Academy, Schaumburg

K-4 Division — Alina Qian, 4th Grade, Prairie Elementary, Buffalo Grove

5-8 Division — Bree Ponchak, 7th Grade, Highland Middle School, Libertyville

5-8 Division — Jeremy Strouse, 7th Grade, Caruso Middle School, Deerfield

9-12 Division — Sharon Zavlin, 10th Grade, Adlai E. Stevenson H.S., Lincolnshire

9-12 Division — Ryan Grunsten, 11th Grade, Fenwick H.S., Oak Park


Honorable Mention Poster



Adam Kitlas, Kennedy Elementary, Schiller Park


1st Grade

Olivia Kapecki, Kennedy Elementary, Schiller Park

Andres Reyes, Hearst Elementary, Chicago


2nd Grade

Sydney Aul, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

Levi Bierlein, Lee Foster Elementary, Oak Forest

Dianne Park, Kildeer Countryside Elementary, Long Grove

Grace Ahn, Ivy Hall School, Buffalo Grove


3rd Grade

Audry Chan, Glenview School of Arts, Glenview

Evan Boyle, Lincoln Elementary, St. Charles


4th Grade

Rachel Li, White Eagle Elementary. Naperville

Fernando Velazquez, Winnebago Elementary, Bloomingdale


5th Grade

Ilyas Alam, Elm Elementary, Burr Ridge

Nikita Jurcenko, Mill Creek Elementary, Geneva

Ksenia Baatz, Avery Coonley School, Downers Grove

Lexie Dabin Kim, Fairview Elementary, Mount Prospect


6th Grade

Julia Levenshteyn, Meridian Middle School, Buffalo Grove

Reva Geslani, Homeschooled, Waukegan


7th Grade

Asfiyah Shamshuddin, Eastview Middle School, Bartlett

Collette Gonzalez, Liberty Jr. H.S., Burbank

Christina Gu, Kennedy Elementary, Lisle

Isabella Cornejo, Ellis Middle School, Elgin


8th Grade

Aidan McGuire, Homeschooled, Mokena

Stephanie Moon, F.E Peacock Middle School, Itasca


9th Grade

Nicolas Albers, Burlington Central H.S., Burlington


10th Grade

Ashlie De La Cruz, Burlington Central H.S., Burlington

Alessia Liebovich, New Trier H.S., Winnetka


11th Grade

Katherine Bodlak, Fenwick. H.S., Oak Park

Camile Adams, Crystal Lake Central H.S., Crystal Lake


12th Grade

Nia Spencer, Ogden International H.S., Chicago

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