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School Bus Art Contest Uplifts Student Spirits Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

As the health crisis took hold across the nation and the world, operations at Southern California school bus contractor JFK Transportation were put on hold. Yet the company continued to find a way to give back to its community.

Based in Santa Ana, California, JFK Transportation has been family-owned since 1993. The company specializes in transportation needs ranging from school field trips, daily home-to school-routes. and sport and activity trips.

When the pandemic hit in March and operations ceased, David Palencia, the compliance director for JFK Transportation, told School Transportation News the company came up with several solutions to stay involved in its surrounding community. Palencia added that it introduced a Wi-Fi on wheels program as well as meal delivery to students.

Local media outlets reported that JFK Transportation equipped school buses and vans Wi-Fi routers to help connect students attending the Santa Ana Unified School District. JFK Transportation President Kevin Watson was quoted in an article by CBS Los Angeles stating that each van reaches approximately 200 students. The vehicles were deployed in five neighborhoods identified as Wi-Fi dead zones in early September as part of a pilot program.

Ultimately, Palencia said JFK wanted to also do something “fun” for the students. The company introduced the Student Art Contest and Exhibition 2020, for which students in grades K-12 submitted one piece of artwork — a drawing, painting, watercolor, charcoal, pastels, etc. — that encompassed the theme “#2020Vision Through The Eyes of a Student.”


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The submissions in August also called for an artist’s statement on what inspired the work and how it relates to the theme. While JFK operates in Southern California, the company posted an advertisement through social media outlets to invite students across the U.S. to submit artwork.

Palencia said the company received a total of 71 submissions from Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, and Nevada. One winner was selected in the age categories of elementary school, middle school, and high school. Palencia added that next year an even broader advertisement will be deployed.

In addition to sharing the winners’ artwork with local and national media, the students’ submissions are displayed on school buses that are driven around their communities. Palencia added the art contest will be an annual event.

The winners and photos of the winning artwork are listed below:

  • Elementary first Place – Karina Ramirez, 10 years old, 5th grader at Monte Vista Elementary in California
  • Elementary first place – Valeria Silva, 10 years, 5th grader at Jackson Elementary in California
  • Middle School first place – Neryah Atuatasi, 8th grader at Fitz Intermediate School in California
  • High School first place – Jazmin Suarez, 14 years old, 9th grader at Saddleback High School in California
  • Honorable mention – Melissa Gjokaj, 17-years-old, Mission Viejo High School in California
  • Honorable mention – Helen Ngo, 16 years, 11th grader at Irvington High School in California
  • Honorable mention – Sophia, 10th grader at Yorba Linda High School in California.
  • Honorable mention – Sergio Hernandez, 10th grader at Orange County School of Arts in California

 

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