MLK Jr. Day as seen by the next generation

Powerful stuff.

Each year the Missoulian hosts a contest for Missoula’s kids on a different theme for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I’m always blown away by the artwork, essays and poems offered by the kids right here at home. They show that these kids really get it – and open up new facets I’d never even considered.

So enjoy, but be warned – once you start reading the submissions from the winners you’ll want to read them all.

Congratulations, kids. You make us all proud.

Will Hansen, Kindergarten, Sussex School.

Will Hansen, Kindergarten, Sussex School.


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Time to get creative for Kids’ Holiday Drawing Contest

The kids and I are big on making our own Christmas presents each year. It’s fun, it’s thrifty and it’s a great way to spend time together – which is what the holidays are all about, right?

We have a rule that we absolutely cannot start any Christmas projects until after Thanksgiving. But we can still collect lots of great ideas. Oh yes we can.

And of course we’ll be making our own Christmas cards.

If your kids make their own cards too, you might encourage them to send one in to the Missoulian for the annual Holiday Drawing Contest. The Missoulian sponsors it, and publishes the top 25 submissions in the newspaper. The grand prize winner will become the 2014 holiday card for Youth Homes, Inc.


That’s a pretty good reason to participate. Another good reason to send that art in is that the first-place winners in each of two age groups will win $25. Which you could use to buy even more card stock, envelopes and glitter.

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An inspiring time to get started on MLK contest entries

On Tuesday, it was the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. On Friday, it will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy Jr.

Both of these events can be difficult things to talk about with kids. It helps that we have the soaring words of great leaders to guide the way.

Which makes me long for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, still months away. There’s a day to celebrate the ability of words to guide us through difficult times!

Western Montana’s young ones can start celebrating – and learning – today, if they wish, in preparation for the Missoulian’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. writing and art contest.

Each year, children from preschool age through 12th grade are welcome to participate in the contest by responding to a particular quote or theme from MLK. The theme for 2014 is “Keep Moving Forward” and the quote is “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But my all means, keep moving.”

The deadline is for submitting original drawings, paintings or other artwork is Jan. 6, which is still plenty of weeks away.

But if you’re looking for a great seque between then and now, I think this particular week offers plenty of inspiration.

Here’s more information from the article:

Winners in grade categories pre-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12 will receive cash prizes in the written and art categories. Selected winning entries will be featured in the Missoulian.

Send entries to MLK Essay/Art Contest, Missoulian, P.O. Box 8029, Missoula, MT 59807.

The contest is sponsored by the Missoulian, MLK Day Planning Committee, NCBI Missoula and University of Montana Excellence Fund. Contact Debby Florence at 541-6891 or with questions.

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A Halloween party for mermaids, pirates and other water-lovers

My daughter likes to reach for the impossible. For her birthday recently, she asked for a swimming suit “with a real mermaid tail.” Uh huh. I’m still working on that one. Maybe I’ll have something figured out in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, Halloween is coming up and that means it’s time for costumes and parties. Wanna-be mermaids in particular won’t want to miss the upcoming “Splash-O-Ween” party at Currents – which will include a costume contest and other fun activities in addition to open swim.

It’s this Friday (!), Oct. 28, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The admission cost is $3 for all ages, with a dollar from each admission going to Share The Fun Youth Recreation Grants.

So support a good cause while also enjoying the company of Currents mascot Oscar the Otter (who will pull double duty as the costume contest judge), as well as a “Mad Scientist’s Lab” display, a greased pumpkin contest, musical inner tubes and a pumpkin relay.

Word is that the Crazy Creek Cafe from Splash Montana will also offer concessions for purchase.

For more information about the city’s aquatics programs or the “Splash-o-Ween” party, call 721-PARK.

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Whoa! Check out the entries for the Congressional Art Competition

There are only a few days left to vote for the Montana-wide winner of the 2011 Congressional Art Competition! Voting is scheduled to close this upcoming Sunday – Mother’s Day – and whether you pick a favorite or not, you will definitely want to browse through the entries.

The only place I could find them is on Rep. Denny Rehberg’s Facebook page. As Montana’s Congressman, he’s the guy corralling the entries from Montana’s high school students. He has 27 of them posted, and the talent and range of materials is absolutely stunning. There’s some pencil drawings, some paintings, a photograph, a couple of digital images … well, you just have to see them.

The submissions with the most votes will move on as finalists in the competition. In order to vote, however, it appears you have to “Like” Rehberg on Facebook first. If I have that wrong or the entries are available anyplace else, hopefully someone in the know will set me straight.

In a prepared statement, Rehberg had this to say about Facebook and the contest:

Facebook is not only an excellent place for me to directly interact with Montanans, it’s a remarkable forum to showcase the talents of our state’s young artists through The Congressional Art Competition. This year’s contest will be truly interactive, as the Facebook users will vote for their favorite submissions, helping me to select the finalists.  I hope everyone will log on to take a look.

For more information about the contest and the prizes – including college scholarships – you might want to check out my earlier posts on the subject.

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Saturday is deadline for A+ List nominees

For the past month or so, the Missoulian has sponsored the 2011 A+ List School Awards Contest to find Missoula’s “Most Influential Educator,” “Outstanding Student” and “Best Extracurricular or Classroom Project.”

Missoulians were invited to submit their nominees in each of three categories – elementary school, middle school and high school – to the website,

If you haven’t yet put in your submission, you might want to take note that the contest closes this Saturday. So hurry up and get those nominees named!

The winners will get prizes and be featured in a special section of the Missoulian that will run on May 3.

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Fifth-grader’s winning poster features Lost Creek State Park

Last week Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced the winners of its 2011 Montana State Parks Fifth Grade Poster Contest.

This year marked the 21st anniversary of the contest, which invites fifth-graders from across the state to submit original artwork highlighting Montana’s individual parks. This year’s theme centered on camping.

MorganWyantThis year’s first-place winner, Lincoln Elementary School’s Morgan Wyant of Anaconda, submitted a piece about Lost Creek State Park.

She wins an assortment of prizes stuffed into a backpack, and valued at $200, and her whole class wins a field trip to “a state park of their choice.” Any guesses on which park it’ll be?

A Sacred Heart Home School student in Helena, Charles Grag, won second place for his Bannack State Park entry; the third place winner is North Star Elementary School’s Hali Kapperud, of Gildford, for her piece on Sluice Boxes State Park. Each of them will also get backbacks full of field guides and other prizes worth $150 and $100, respectively.

A Bannack State Park entry earned an Honorable Mention for Clay Allison of Dillon’s Parkview Elementary School, so this kiddo will be counted among the winners who will receive a T-shirt featuring their winning artwork and a subscription to Montana Outdoors magazine.

All these winners will also get some exposure for their artwork, which will be traveling around the state through November. Here’s the display schedule:

June 2 – 13, FWP  Headquarters, 1420 E. 6th Avenue, Helena

June 20 – July 5, Lone Pine State Park, Kalispell

July 18- 29, FWP Office, 3201 Spurgin Road, Missoula

Aug. 8 – 19, FWP Office, 1400 South 19th, Bozeman

Aug. 29 – Sept. 9, First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, Ulm

Sept. 19 – 30, Pictograph Cave State Park, Billings

Oct. 11 – 21, FWP Office, Hwy 2 West, Glasgow

Nov. 1 – 15,  FWP Office, 352 I-94 Business Loop, Miles City

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Missoulian looking for A+ students and educators to honor

The A+ List School Awards Contest is now officially underway and actively soliciting submissions for Missoula’s “Most Influential Educator,” “Outstanding Student” and “Best Extracurricular or Classroom Project.”

The Missoulian-sponsored contest is broken out into three categories: Elementary school, middle school and high school submissions.

I’m sure the website,, is going to be flooded with submissions.

Students, parents and educators themselves are encouraged to participate. The Missoulian also plans to partner with businesses in the community to provide prizes to the winners.

And, of course, the winners will also be featured in a special section in the Missoulian on May 3!

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Eighth-grade essay contest aimed at preventing cyber bullying

I am no longer surprised to see 5- and 6-year-olds with their own personal cell phones. I am no longer shocked that my own daughter, at the tender age of 6, knows how to navigate the PBS Kids website on her own or order a movie through Netflix.

I am, however, appalled at some of the stories about cyber bullying coming out of the national news these days. It’s become a huge, huge deal. Yesterday, as a matter of fact, the White House hosted a conference on cyber bullying prevention.

In Montana, we are turning to the kids themselves for ideas on how to stop cyber bullies. The Montana Police Protective Association and the Montana Department of Justice are sponsoring an essay contest for eight graders, while the goal being to solicit solutions to the cyber bullying problem.

Here are the details, via the Montana Attorney General’s Office:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Local screen-printer hosting art contest for children and adults

Laura Simpson of Missoula screen printing shop Alpenglow Apparel sent me a note today about the business’s upcoming art contest for children.

“We’re asking for kids to send in drawings of Missoula culture and nature, and the winner gets their design printed on 20 organic cotton shirts in any sizes and colors they choose,” Simpson says.

Read all about the “I am Missoula” contest on the shop’s webpage at The contest is open to all artists in two categories: those 14 years and younger, and adults. Entries should emphasize “the natural environment or nature in and around Missoula.”