River City Water Festival Poster Contest – Winners!

In honor of the third annual River City Water Festival, a 5th grade student’s poster design was chosen to promote the event with their ideal “Water Superhero.”

The 2017 event aims to spread awareness on protecting the Great Lakes and Grand River from nonpoint source pollution.

Elaine Isely, WMEAC water and LID programs director, said the “Water Superheroes: Fighting Nonpoint Source Pollution in Our Waterways” poster contest educates students, but also offers the chance to demonstrate their knowledge.

For the 2017 contest, several West Michigan schools submitted nearly 30 posters from 5th to 7th grade students. The designs were made either individually or by a team effort.

This year, the judges were Dale Robertson, CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Museum; Bill Wood, Executive Director of WMEAC; Dr. Barry Kanpol, Dean for GVSU’s College of Education; and Brian Vander Ark, singer and songwriter for the band The Verve Pipe.

Winning first place, Jolene Barcelo is a 5th grader who attends Grand Rapids Montessori Public School. Barcelo used bold colors to convey a hero flying over the Grand River with the slogan “Let’s Make a Difference.”

“Elements that visually attracted me when judging were ones that seemed rather raw, maybe not always to scale, but bold contrasting colors and due to the nature of the topic, a little visually jarring,” Wood said. “I think you see that in the winning piece.”

The second place winners were Ashley Fialek, Gillian Edwards, and Alanna Cregg who are 7th graders at Holton Middle School in Muskegon County. Taking on third place was Jubilee Gardner and Leyah Thocher, 5th and 6th graders at Grand Rapids Montessori Public Schools.

“The message was important to me, and the fact that it was articulated so well in the runner up scored high marks from me,” Wood said.

Posters were narrowed down to the top 20, and the judges voted on the final three. The five key principles were balance and composition, creativity, attention to detail, the overall message and marketing appeal. Each category was scored 1-5, with a max total of 25 points.

While the festival is aimed toward children, Robertson said it can serve as a way to spread awareness to their families and to others beyond those parameters.

“Frankly, children are some of our best educators,” Robertson said. “Lessons children learn in school or other activities are carried home and shared with the rest of the family. It certainly makes sense to build lifelong habits and awareness.”

The top three winners will appear in the event’s marketing, the posters will be hung up at their schools, they will receive a free family membership at the GRPM, classrooms will receive a primed rain barrel and winners receive a copy of The Verve Pipe’s “A Family Album.”

Regional experts in environmental quality and water resources will lead the activities. Students are to rotate through various stations featuring lessons on water cycles and aquatic ecosystems.

The festival is organized by Groundswell, WMEAC and held at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. It will be open to school groups Thursday, March 23 and Friday, March 24. The festival is open to the public (free of charge) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25. The top 20 posters will be on display until the end of the festival, and a poster award ceremony will take place March 25 at 11 a.m.

Financial support for the festival is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and GVSU’s College of Education.

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