Peace. What does it mean to you? The word conjures personal ideas, like prayer, or international ideas, like relations between nations.

Patrick Marsh Middle School students are hard at work imagining and creating what peace means to them through colored pencil and other media for an international fall Peace Poster Contest.

The contest is sponsored locally by the Sun Prairie Lions Club. More than 600,000 children around the world will participate in the contest, open to those that are 11, 12 or 12 before Nov. 15, 2019. Patrick Marsh Middle School is the only school in the district participating in the contest.

Each poster will be judged on originality, artistic merit, and theme expression. The Patrick Marsh Middle School winner will receive a cash prize from the Lions, before potentially continuing onto district, state and international contests. The international winner will receive $5,000 and a trip to an awards ceremony at the United Nations. Twenty-three merit winners will receive $500 and a certificate.

Sun Prairie Lions Club Treasurer Bill Lund is the Lions Peace Poster Chairman and has connected with Patrick Marsh Art teacher Ann Disch for the inaugural year of the Lions’ Poster contest in Sun Prairie.

Disch, in her second year at Patrick Marsh, says she’s worked with the Language Arts teachers to offer work time and helps students start planning sheets for the project. She has talked with them about composition.

“Since this is a pretty intense contest, students may be working on it one hour a night for a couple of weeks,” said Disch, emphasizing posters would be difficult to complete in a short amount of time.

“A student might ask how to represent a certain idea, since there’s no text – only imagery. We talk about how art can be plagiarized [and to do original work instead] and the students incorporate techniques that they’ve learned in art class, even simple colored pencil techniques,” said Disch.

Disch said the contest entry response has been good, exceeding the 10 or so students she expected would sign up. By her estimate, up to a full quarter of the Patrick Marsh Middle School student body may participate.

The contest deadline is Nov. 4.

“We are producing more entry packets. I’m having students that are not enrolled in my art classes approach me in the hallway,” she said. Disch said she hopes to display all entries in the main hallways of Patrick Marsh Middle School, which is located on Sun Prairie’s east side at 1351 Columbus St.

Disch said she’s seen involvement in art education change students in many ways. “Confidence. [Exhibiting] a growth mindset. Critical thinking. And it’s a good break in the day from other classes,” she said. “Students learn about diversity.”

The response to the contest has been so positive Disch believes Patrick Marsh, and perhaps other schools, will participate next year.

Lund said he is definitely hoping to expand the contest to other schools next year, depending on interest.

“I’m hoping this will blossom into a working relationship [with the Lions] and I see a lot of ways this [the contest] could grow community-wide,” said Disch.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service organization, with 1.5 million members in more than 48,000 clubs in over 200 countries.

In addition to efforts to conquer blindness, Lions also have a strong commitment to community service and helping youth throughout the world.

To view the finalist posters of the Lions Peace Poster Contest or see previous international poster winners, visit www.lionsclubs.org/peaceposter.

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