Oyster Bay fourth-grade poster contest winner Shanaya Shah, 9, a...

Oyster Bay fourth-grade poster contest winner Shanaya Shah, 9, a student at Stratford Road Elementary School in Plainview, with her first-place artwork at Oyster Bay Town Hall. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Fourth grade students have drawn on their imaginations to craft artwork with an environmental message that the Town of Oyster Bay will showcase after awards in a poster contest are announced Monday on Earth Day.

The young artists used markers, crayons, oil pastels and pencils to create entries for the town’s annual fourth grade contest — an initiative aimed at connecting students with nature.

Shanaya Shah, 9, a student at Stratford Road Elementary School in Plainview, won first place in the competition. Her classmate, Jonathan Varghese, 9, took second place and Valentina Waqar, 9, from Charles Campagne Elementary School in Bethpage, got third place.

The theme of this year's contest, “Trees for Tomorrow,” was centered on showing the benefits of trees in everyday life. The winning posters will be displayed at municipal facilities and featured in a town environmental newsletter.

Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said the contest has been “highly successful” in terms of educating children about environmental issues.

First-place winner Shanaya said her travel to countries like India made her realize the importance of clean air and the role trees play in that process. That experience served as an inspiration for her contest-winning piece.

“I love nature. Not only because it's pretty, but because of all the things that nature has given us,” the 9-year-old said. “I feel like people don't actually register the fact that we are literally alive and breathing because of trees.”

She said she was “excited” and “proud” when she found out she placed first and hopes her artwork sends the message that more trees should be planted, waste should be recycled and the environment should be celebrated.

When approaching his piece, with crayons and colored pencils in hand, Jonathan said he thought about two divergent paths nature could take in years to come.

“I thought of both ways our future could end up — it could be good and bad,” said the second-place winner. “I wanted to draw both of them, and in the middle I wanted to draw a tree that represented Mother Nature.”

On one side, someone tries to harm Mother Nature, while the opposite future is “colorful” and “clean,” he said. 

Valentina said nature is close to her heart. She goes to a neighborhood park for walks and bike rides and said the nature there helped serve as an inspiration for her poster. 

What started as a sketch of trees blossomed into an oil pastel drawing of two landscapes: One side was “clear” and “beautiful” and showed the impacts of recycling, while the other was dark, “faded and dry,” Valentina said.

The 9-year-old added when people see her art, she hopes they understand her message and choose the better future.

Prizes for all three winners include a tree planting in their school districts.

Fourth grade students have drawn on their imaginations to craft artwork with an environmental message that the Town of Oyster Bay will showcase after awards in a poster contest are announced Monday on Earth Day.

The young artists used markers, crayons, oil pastels and pencils to create entries for the town’s annual fourth grade contest — an initiative aimed at connecting students with nature.

Shanaya Shah, 9, a student at Stratford Road Elementary School in Plainview, won first place in the competition. Her classmate, Jonathan Varghese, 9, took second place and Valentina Waqar, 9, from Charles Campagne Elementary School in Bethpage, got third place.

The theme of this year's contest, “Trees for Tomorrow,” was centered on showing the benefits of trees in everyday life. The winning posters will be displayed at municipal facilities and featured in a town environmental newsletter.

Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said the contest has been “highly successful” in terms of educating children about environmental issues.

First-place winner Shanaya said her travel to countries like India made her realize the importance of clean air and the role trees play in that process. That experience served as an inspiration for her contest-winning piece.

“I love nature. Not only because it's pretty, but because of all the things that nature has given us,” the 9-year-old said. “I feel like people don't actually register the fact that we are literally alive and breathing because of trees.”

She said she was “excited” and “proud” when she found out she placed first and hopes her artwork sends the message that more trees should be planted, waste should be recycled and the environment should be celebrated.

Fourth-grade student Valentina Waqar, left, won third place in a...

Fourth-grade student Valentina Waqar, left, won third place in a Town of Oyster Bay poster contest and fellow fourth-grader Jonathan Varghese won second place. The theme of the contest was "Trees for Tomorrow." Credit: Morgan Campbell

When approaching his piece, with crayons and colored pencils in hand, Jonathan said he thought about two divergent paths nature could take in years to come.

“I thought of both ways our future could end up — it could be good and bad,” said the second-place winner. “I wanted to draw both of them, and in the middle I wanted to draw a tree that represented Mother Nature.”

On one side, someone tries to harm Mother Nature, while the opposite future is “colorful” and “clean,” he said. 

Valentina said nature is close to her heart. She goes to a neighborhood park for walks and bike rides and said the nature there helped serve as an inspiration for her poster. 

What started as a sketch of trees blossomed into an oil pastel drawing of two landscapes: One side was “clear” and “beautiful” and showed the impacts of recycling, while the other was dark, “faded and dry,” Valentina said.

The 9-year-old added when people see her art, she hopes they understand her message and choose the better future.

Prizes for all three winners include a tree planting in their school districts.

Poster prizes

  • The theme of Oyster Bay's annual fourth grade poster contest was “Trees for Tomorrow.”
  • Two Plainview students and one Bethpage student won prizes.
  • The winning artwork will be displayed at town facilities. 
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