Talent and Compassion Celebrated as Lions Club Announces Poster Contest Winners

This poster, designed by McKenna Lavin, won first place for the 2020-21 school year. The theme was “Peace Through Service”. This poster won at both club and district level.

Sat, June 4, 2022 7:00 AM

Story and photos by Alice Gerard

The winners of the Lions Club’s three-year Peace Poster Contest were announced at the Lions Club meeting, held May 25 at the Buffalo Launch Club. The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the recognition of Peace Poster Contest winners, explained Paul Bassette, Chair of the Poster Committee.

The poster contest is open to sixth, seventh and eighth graders, he said.

The theme for the 2021-2022 school year was “We’re All Connected” and the first place winner was Eleanor Murray, a sixth grader at Veronica Connor Middle School.

Bassette said there were three criteria for judging the posters: expression of the year’s theme, artistic merit and originality.

He explained, “Their artistic interpretation helps these young people reflect and express ideas to help them advance their international understanding, as well as tolerance towards other people in the world. You will be amazed at what children can do.

First place winner receives $100, second place winner receives $50, and honorable mention winners receive $25. The winner moves on to the district contest, and the winner moves on to a statewide contest. Statewide competition winners are entered into the international competition, which Bassette says includes about 100 countries.

Drew Dulak, a middle school art teacher, has over the years entered his classes in the Peace Poster Contest, “where we’ve had many entries — up to 100,” Bassette said. “Unfortunately, COVID has intercepted the situation. Last year, we had only a few participants in the Peace Poster Contest.

Eleanor explained the thought process that led her to design her poster: “I thought of the dove and how it symbolizes peace, and I thought there were a whole bunch of people around the world and how you can create peace. The white flag showed that there is surrender, but in surrender there is also unity. We can all come together.

“I believe peace is equality among all,” Eleanor said. “When we treat people differently, we drive a wedge between different groups of people. When we treat people equally, no matter where they come from or what they look like, we help create peace. People holding hands show our diversity to all. When you treat people equally, you stick together.

She noted that the green ribbon shown on her poster was for mental health awareness. She encourages everyone to disconnect from the internet and spend time with other people outdoors.

Eleanor’s parents, Kateri Solberg and Kevin Murray, said their daughter showed her artistic talent at a very young age.

“When she was in kindergarten, she could create profiles, portfolios, and photos of people,” Solberg said. “The way she put her artistic talents together felt like she was already in high school. I hope she pursues it however she wants, and we’re just blessed that she wants peace too.

Murray, who teaches US History and Government Advanced Placement at Grand Island High School, said, “I’m just extremely proud of her. We always encourage her interests and I have art supplies all over the house.

Paul Bassette with Eleanor Murray, a sixth-grade student at Veronica Connor Middle School, and her winning poster for the 2021-22 school year. The theme for the year was “We are all connected”.

Eleanor Murray, winner of the poster competition for the 2021-22 school year, with her mother, Kateri Solberg.


The first and second place winners from previous years are:

√ Noah Magee, now an eighth-grader in middle school, won first place for 2019-20. The theme for that year was “Journey of Peace”. Second place went to Andrew Kozlowski, also an eighth-grade student in middle school. Magee, who was unable to attend the Lions Club meeting, said in a written statement, “Peace saves lives and that is very important.” Kozlowski was also unable to attend.

√ McKenna Lavin, now a seventh grader in college, won the top spot for 2020-21. The theme that year was “Peace through Service”. Second place goes to Noah Magee. Lavin, who was also unable to attend the Lions Club meeting, said in a written statement, “When we are united with each other and at peace, impossible is not in our vocabulary.” Lavin also won at the district level, but not at the state level.

√ There was no runner-up for the 2021-22 school year.

Posters for all juniors and seniors for the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years will be on display at the Grand Island Memorial Library for one year.