Safety contest winners announced

Publication Date
Friday, April 29, 2022

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 2021-2022 Safety Poster and Essay Contest.

After going on hiatus during the 2020-2021 school year, Metra once again invited students in grades K-12 throughout its six-county service area to submit poster designs and essays highlighting the importance of railroad safety. This year, Metra received more than 350 entries. Students created artwork and wrote essays around the theme “Safety is a Choice You Make.”

The contest, which is in its 15th 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. The winners were selected through a three-round judging process with the finalists judged by a panel that included government officials, representatives from safety and education advocacy groups, business and community leaders, law enforcement, media and railroad professionals.

“It’s wonderful to see students participate in this contest and learn the importance of staying safe near the railroad,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “My Metra is all about taking personal responsibility for our riders and each other, and the winners of this contest have done a great job of demonstrating it through their artwork and essays.”

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 a $500 gift card, while second- and third-place poster contest winners receive $250 and $100 gift cards, respectively. Those receiving honorable mentions will receive a certificate noting their achievement.

A People’s Choice Award winner will also be selected via a public vote. Members of the general public can select their favorite poster from this year’s first-place winners. Voting for People’s Choice will be available online here through midnight May 31. 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. The posters can be viewed here or on the contest's Facebook page.

Metra also recognizes the school with the most entries submitted in the poster contest. This year’s winner is West Elementary School in Zion with 63 entries. In honor of this achievement, the school will receive notebook computers for use in the classroom.

The following is a complete list of the winners of the 2021-2022 Safety Poster and Essay Contest:

Top Participating School
West Elementary School, Zion

First Place Essay
K-4 Division – Aria Mallu, 4th Grade, White Eagle Elementary School, Naperville
5-8 Division – Sarah Barbee, 8th Grade, Highland Middle School, Libertyville
9-12 Division – Henry Charrlin, 12th Grade, Highland Park High School, Highland Park

First Place Poster
Kindergarten — Isaiah Cho, Christian Heritage Academy, Northfield
1st Grade — John Seungjin Kim, Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School, Prospect Heights
2nd Grade — Shereen Kim, Willow Bend School, Rolling Meadows
3rd Grade — Roman Baranovski, May Watts Elementary School, Naperville
4th Grade — Aria Mallu, White Eagle Elementary School, Naperville
5th Grade — Tanvi Tiwari, Meridian Middle School, Buffalo Grove
6th Grade — Aaron Ahn, Still Middle School, Aurora
7th Grade — Kate Levenshteyn, Aptakisic Junior High School, Buffalo Grove
8th Grade — Angela Xiao, Highland Middle School, Libertyville
9th Grade — Eduardo Patino, Joliet Central High School, Joliet
10th Grade — Giovanni Del Carmen, West Leyden High School, Northlake
11th Grade — Eun Chae Lee, Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook
12th Grade — Kelly Tsogtjargal, Maine East High School, Park Ridge

Second Place Poster
Kindergarten— Kamen Barzashki, Clow Elementary School, Naperville
1st Grade — Daniel Opp, Bronzeville Classical School, Chicago
2nd Grade — Kaytlin Deloera, Cicero West Elementary, Cicero
3rd Grade — Tanishi Singh, Fry Elementary, Naperville
4th Grade — Miriam Dudushola, North School, Des Plaines
5th Grade — Emma Jung, Deerpath Elementary, Cary
6th Grade — Bryce Davis, Heineman Middle School, Algonquin
7th Grade — Jenna Choe, Woodlawn Middle School, Long Grove
8th Grade — Annaliese Bristow, Homeschooled, Wheaton
9th Grade — Rowan Strink, Naperville Central High School, Naperville
10th Grade — Natalia Zagata, Lemont High School, Lemont
11th Grade — Sean Park, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire
12th Grade — Christian Hausman, Metea Valley High School, Aurora

Third Place Poster
Kindergarten — Aksharasee Rajadurai, Tripp Elementary, Buffalo Grove
1st Grade — Eli Gavin, Cumberland School, Des Plaines
2nd Grade — Smayan Vishnukanth, Peterson Elementary School, Naperville
3rd Grade — Ilakkiya Perumal, Maercker Intermediate School, Westmont
4th Grade — Eliza Wier, Forest Road School, La Grange Park
5th Grade — Jaelyn Park, St. Peter Lutheran School, Schaumburg
6th Grade — Danielle Rehder, Westchester Middle School, Westchester
7th Grade — Dianne Park, Woodlawn Middle School, Long Grove
8th Grade — Abigail Darrah, Westview Hills Middle School, Willowbrook
9th Grade — Gabriela Syper, East Leyden High School, Franklin Park
10th Grade — Mia Sanchez, Romeo High School, Romeoville
11th Grade — Julia Levenshteyn, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire
12th Grade — Alyssa Jaelyn Robinson, Joliet Central High School, Joliet

Honorable Mention Essay
K-4 Division
Stephanie George, 3rd Grade, Wegner Elementary School, West Chicago
Dominik Babej, 4th Grade, Waterbury Elementary School, Roselle
5-8 Division
Srish Parachuri, 5th Grade, Half Day School, Lincolnshire
Kyra Jordan, 8th Grade, Francis Granger Middle School, Aurora
9-12 Division
Rika Nishikawa, 9th Grade, Homeschooled, Chicago
Theodore Biela, 12th Grade, Rickover Naval Academy, Chicago

Honorable Mention Poster
Violet Wier, Barnsdale Road School, La Grange Park
2nd Grade
Saanvi Peddireddy, Owen Elementary School, Naperville
3rd Grade
Matthew Gonzalez, Hurley Elementary School, Chicago
Seokyeong (Teresa) Seong, Grove Avenue Elementary School, Barrington
4th Grade
Annabelle Villasenor, Frontier Academy, Brookfield
Jazlyne Marquez, Americana Elementary School, Glendale Heights
5th Grade
Kyrill Kapkanov, Life Christian Co-School, St. Charles
Anna Kadochnikova, J.B. Nelson Elementary School, Batavia
6th Grade
Adolfo Martinez, James Shields Middle School, Chicago
Anderson Pries, Homeschooled, Homewood
7th Grade
Mia Vietmeir, Algonquin Middle School, Algonquin
Nell Fedko, Old Quarry Middle School, Lemont
8th Grade
Maia Weissman, Attea Middle School, Glenview
10th Grade
Samiya Smith, Thornton Fractional North, Calumet City
Varun Vasireddy, Bolingbrook High School, Bolingbrook
11th Grade
Spencer Smolik, Naperville Central High School, Naperville
Michael Choi, John Hersey High School, Arlington Heights
12th Grade
Beatrice Nicole Ladra, Bolingbrook High School, Bolingbrook
Henry Charrlin, Highland Park High School, Highland Park
Theodore Biela, Rickover Naval Academy, Chicago