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Last Updated - 09/06/2018 - 1:54PM

2016 Safety Contest Winners Announced

(May 4, 2016) – 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 2016 Safety Poster and Essay Contest.

Metra received more than 3,200 entries from across the region for this year’s contest. Students created artwork and wrote essays around the theme “Make Safety Your Focus: Look Listen Live.” The contest, which is in its tenth 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.

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. The winners were selected through a three-round judging process with the finalists judged by a panel of 26  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. “This contest is a creative way to help reinforce safety messages for our children who in turn help us spread the word about the need for both children and adults to focus on staying safe near tracks and crossings.”

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 via voting on Metra’s website Members of the general public can select their favorite poster from this year’s first-place winners. Voting will be available online today through midnight Friday, June 10. 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 15 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 Wauconda’s Robert Crown Elementary with 755 entries. In honor of this achievement, the school will receive a computer for use in the classroom.

The first-place poster designs will be featured in Metra’s 2017 safety calendar, on weekend tickets and on the Metra website. Winning safety essays will also be featured in the safety calendar, the Metra website and its Facebook page. The second- and third-place posters will also be featured on the website and contest’s Facebook page (

In its tenth year, the Metra Safety Poster and Essay Contest was born out of tragedy following the deaths of several children in 2004 and 2005 in northeast Illinois who were struck by trains while walking along or crossing the tracks. The contest is a key part of Metra’s ongoing efforts to prevent such tragedies by educating children and adults about safe behaviors around railroad tracks and trains. Metra is heavily involved in the national Operation Lifesaver program, conducting more than 900 safety presentations annually at schools, libraries, community centers and community events across northeast Illinois.

Metra’s Metra Safety Poster and Essay Contest would not be possible without the support of its sponsors, whose generous contributions have helped Metra defray the costs of the contest prizes as well as the production of the safety posters. This year’s contest sponsor is again the Hubbard Radio Group, owners of Chicago radio stations 97.1 FM The Drive, 100.3 WSHE and 101.9 The Mix.

The following were chosen as winners of the 2016 Safety Poster and Essay Contest:

Top Participating School

Robert Crown Elementary, Wauconda

First Place Essay

K-4 Division — Alina Qian, Lake Zurich, 3rd Grade, Prairie Elementary School

5-8 Division — Ethan Dawes Naperville, 5th Grade, Patterson Elementary

9-12 Division — Ethan Chen Green Oaks, 9th Grade, Libertyville High School

First Place Poster

Kindergarten — Daniel Benjamin Ho, Algonquin, Westfield Community School

1st Grade   —  Raymond Park, Naperville, Ranchview Elementary School

2nd Grade —   Evan Boyle, St. Charles, Lincoln Elementary School

3rd Grade —    Tristan Mehra, Naperville, White Eagle Elementary School

4th Grade —    Olivia C. Kim, Glenview, Glenview School of Arts

5th Grade —    Samantha Chen, Green Oaks, Copeland Manor School

6th Grade —    Madelyn Lee, Buffalo Grove, Glenview School of Arts

7th Grade —    Charles Choi, Arlington Heights, Thomas Middle School

8th Grade —    Joy Zhou, Glenview, Glenview School of Arts

9th Grade —    Kate Hoekstra, LaGrange, Lyons Township High School

10th Grade —  Janet Wong, Northbrook, Glenview School of Arts

11th Grade — Grace Fox, Oak Park, Oak Park River Forest High School

12th Grade — Maria Guadalupe Garcia, Des Plaines, Maine West High School

Second Place Poster

Kindergarten — Levi Boyle, St. Charles, Lincoln Elementary School

1st Grade —    Alex Bounds, Naperville, May Watts Elementary School

2nd Grade —   Habin Park, Northbrook, Glenview School of Arts

3rd Grade —    Wyatt Miller, Naperville, White Eagle Elementary School

4th Grade —    Gwyn Lockwood, Wheaton, Lowell Elementary School

5th Grade —    Yebin Park, Northbrook, Glenview School of Arts

6th Grade —    Cynthia Zhang, Libertyville, Highland Middle School

7th Grade —    Yegor Baranovski, Naperville, Thayer J. Hill Middle School

8th Grade —    Leon Kosciak, Long Grove, Glenview School of Arts

9th Grade —    Janet Pak, Mount Prospect, Prospect High School

10th Grade —  Seowon Lee, Buffalo Grove, Adlai E. Stevenson High School

11th Grade — Mark Pappas, Tinley Park, Victor J. Andrew High School

12th Grade — Spencer Jeka, North Barrington, Barrington High School

Third Place Poster

Kindergarten — Sofia Bounds, Naperville, May Watts Elementary School

1st Grade —    Julian Mehra, Naperville, White Eagle Elementary School

2nd Grade —   Aditi Prabhu, Naperville, White Eagle Elementary School

3rd Grade —    Katrina Boroski, Glenview, Glenview School of Arts

4th Grade —    Ksenia Baatz, Naperville, Avery Coonley School

5th Grade —    Madeline Oh, Wilmette, Glenview School of Arts

6th Grade —    Carlos Martinez, Elgin, Hilltop Elementary School

7th Grade —    Jessica Zapanta, Lindenhurst, Millburn School

8th Grade —    Abby Huang, Naperville, Jefferson Junior High School

9th Grade —    Ethan Chen, Green Oaks, Libertyville High School

10th Grade —  Elaine Tran, Lincolnwood, Niles West High School

11th Grade —  Sarah Wagner, Glenview, Glenview School of Arts

12th Grade — Ruth Elizabeth, Evans Chicago, Whitney Young Magnet High School

Honorable Mention Essay

K-4 Division — Manya Davis, Naperville, 4th Grade, John C Dunham STEM Partnership

K-4 Division — Aysha Ahmed, Hanover Park, 4th Grade, Al-Huda Academy

5-8 Division — Adhvaith Mhahesh, Aurora, 5th Grade, Gwendolyn Brooks Elementary School

5-8 Division — Justin Banks, Oak Park, 8th Grade, Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School

5-8 Division — Logan Blancett, Round Lake, 6th Grade, Big Hollow Middle School

9-12 Division — Jessica Currier, Crete12th Grade, Illinois Lutheran High School

9-12 Division — Sruthi Gurudev, Schaumburg., 12th Grade, James B. Conant High School

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