WATERTOWN-OAKVILLE — The Watertown Fire Marshal’s office has announced the winners of the 2020/2021 annual Connecticut Fire Prevention Poster Contest. The contest, sponsored by the State Fire Marshal’s office, the Connecticut Fair Plan, the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association and the Connecticut Fire Marshal’s Association is run by the county and local fire marshals each year to help promote fire safety.

Local winners are picked by each town’s fire marshal and the winning posters are sent to be judged at the county level. 

County winners are honored at an awards luncheon attended by their parents, one teacher of their choice, principal and the local fire marshal where the statewide winner is announced. 

Cash awards are given at each level to the winners and a grant is provided to the state winner’s school.

This year’s Watertown/ Oakville town winners are Emma Kuzia, a 4th grader from Judson Elementary School, Brynne Phelan, a 4th grader from St. Mary Magdalen School, Michael Butterworth, a 5th grader from St. Mary Magdalen School, and Mikaela Stavran, a 5th grader from Judson Elementary School.

The program attracts thousands of students from communities around the state. 

The contest is open to all 4th and 5th grade students with the goal to make school children and their families aware that preventing fires requires everyone to be alert everyday to acts, omissions and dangers which cause fires.

The theme is “Fire Prevention – Everyone/Everyday.” Students are judged on artistic ability and on spelling, legibility, originality and emotional impact.

“The task of picking a winner is never easy” says Fire Marshal Kim Calabrese. “We have a lot of talented young people in our community and each one of them puts a lot of time and effort into their poster and it shows. But winning isn’t everything. Every student that participates is also learning some valuable lessons. Every year we are happy to get involved and meet with students in town to encourage them to participate. By getting into the schools we are afforded an additional opportunity to talk about fire safety and that alone is worth it. It’s not enough to only talk about it once a year anymore. We need to make sure, we, as a community incorporate fire safety into everything that we do.”

Every year the Watertown Fire Marshal’s office picks two winners from each 4th and 5th grade from all the entries submitted. Those winners receive certificates and $50 dollars each from the Fire Marshal’s office. 

Town winners are then sent on to the next phase with the hopes of ultimately being named the overall state winner.

For the second year in a row, Watertown/Oakville has had a town winners’ poster also selected as a Litchfield County winner. 

Michael Butterworth, a 5th grader from St. Mary Magdalen School, created a poster that was selected this year to move on and be judged for the overall state winning poster.

He will receive additional winnings from the Litchfield County Fire Marshal’s Association, be honored at a luncheon and his poster will be included in next year’s programs calendar to be distributed throughout the state. The winning statewide poster will be reproduced and distributed to all towns. Winning county posters will be exhibited at various locations, including the State capitol during the month of October.

“We are very happy for Michael for making it to the next level and wish him the best of luck moving forward. We are also very thankful that he and the other students are involved in helping us spread such important messages. Unfortunatly last year’s luncheon had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 and the students received gift cards in place of the luncheon.

“The Poster Committee’s hope is that this year that won’t happen again. I hope we are able to honor them at the luncheon this year,” said Ms. Calabrese. 

“All of the children deserve to recognize for their hard work and with everything going on these days they need it more than ever. Whatever happens we are confident that they understand that although the virus may cancel a lot of things, it doesn’t cancel fire safety.”

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