Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) and Oak Lawn Police Sgt. Sean Hellig honor the three winners of the Public Safety Coloring Book Contest during a board meeting on March 14. The winners are (from left) Zofia Kapusciak, third place; Zaina Sweis, first place; and Hugh Curley, third place. (Supplied photos)

Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) and Oak Lawn Police Sgt. Sean Hellig honor the three winners of the Public Safety Coloring Book Contest during a board meeting on March 14. The winners are (from left) Zofia Kapusciak, third place; Zaina Sweis, first place; and Hugh Curley, third place. (Supplied photos)

Oak Lawn Chamber honors Coloring Book Contest winners

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Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) joins Fire Department Bureau Chief David Wheeler (center) and Fire Chief Zack Riddle to honor the three winners of the Fire Safety Coloring Contest during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on March 14. The winners are (from left) Hugh Curley, third place; Layali Samra, first place; and Santiago Sernah, second place.

By Joe Boyle

The Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce recognized a group of students whose works of arts make up the annual Fire and Public Safety Coloring Book.

The chamber awarded local students for their artistic achievements during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on March 14.

They recognized both the student artists whose illustrations were included in the 2022 Fire and Safety Coloring Book and the winners of the annual 2022 Fire and Public Safety Coloring Book contest.

Oak Lawn Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd), who served as mayor pro tempore that evening for Mayor Terry Vorderer, was on hand to present the awards to the students.

Members of the Oak Lawn Fire and Police departments were also present to congratulate the winners.

“We start this in August by reaching out to the local high school,” said Anne Fritz, executive director of the chamber. “The fire department then later begins contacting the schools involved and the students.”

Jen Clark, the art teacher for Oak Lawn Community High School, contributed the drawings from the high school students that were showcased in the coloring book. They were honored at the recent chamber member luncheon.

The high school artists are Emma Galvan, Mona Saleh, Jackelin Baldenegro-Serna, Victoria Hartin, Dana Polich, Eli O’Grady, Vanessa Cruz, Ulises Herrera Tamia Brown, Diana Preschel, Lilian Arndt and Gabriela Hrsak.

The Oak Lawn Chamber donated $200 towards the OLCHS Art Program. The first-place winners received a family membership to the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum. All six winners received a $25 gift certificate to the Children’s Museum donated by Oak Lawn Bank & Trust, a Chamber member.

“Chamber members take out advertising for this event,” Fritz said. “This would not be possible without them.”

Also in attendance at the meeting were Jeff Reynolds, president of the Oak Lawn Chamber; Kathleen Farrell, second vice president of the chamber; and Michelle West, of the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum.

Zaina Sweis placed first in the Public Safety Coloring Contest. Placing second was Hugh Curley and third was Zofia Kapusciak.

Placing first in the Fire Safety Coloring Contest was Layali Samra. Santiago Sernah and Hugh Curley placed second and third, respectively.

For more than 30 years the Oak Lawn Chamber has collaborated with the Oak Lawn Fire Department to produce this teaching tool for nearly 4,000 kindergarten through fourth grade students. In recent years, the fire and police departments have collaborated on the production of the book.

Books are distributed to the students by the Oak Lawn Fire Department during Fire Safety Week in October.

The first-place drawing in the respective coloring contests will be featured on the cover of the 2023 Fire and Public Safety Coloring Book.

“It’s definitely a way to pull in our community and teach them about public safety and fire safety in a fun way,” Fritz said.

OLCHS Homecoming Parade

The board also approved the Oak Lawn Community High School Homecoming Parade, which will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The parade will begin at 5 p.m. from 88th Street and Austin Avenue and will proceed to the high school football stadium at 94th and Austin.

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