Thomas Franks, an eighth-grade student at Longwood Junior High School...

Thomas Franks, an eighth-grade student at Longwood Junior High School in Middle Island, was recently honored for turning school bus safety into a work of art. (October 30, 2011) Credit: Handout

Thomas Franks was recently honored for turning school bus safety into a work of art.

Franks, an eighth-grade student at Longwood Junior High School in Middle Island, took second place statewide last month in the 2011 School Bus Safety Poster Contest coordinated by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation. He won first place last spring at the Suffolk County level.

His winning illustration -- which he said was done entirely with colored pencils -- consisted of a child crossing a residential street in front of a yellow bus with the slogan: "I see the driver; the driver sees me."

"It came from my imagination, and it flowed right out of me onto the page," said Franks, 13. "I didn't expect to win. I was really happy."

The drawing began as a class assignment, Franks said, and it took him two 45-minute classes to complete it. He was awarded a $100 check for winning at the county level and a $75 check for placing second statewide.

In his spare time, Franks said, he often enjoys drawing anime, cartoons and landscape artwork. He also took instructional art classes over the summer at Studio E in Miller Place.

At Longwood, Franks is a member of his school's National Junior Honor Society.

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