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Glacier Park Elementary student wins driver safety billboard contest | Tahoma School District

Fourth-grade student Avery Estes shows off her prize, a laptop computer, for creating the winning entry in the distracted driving art contest. Joining her are Washington State Patrol Lt. Ken Noland, left, Trooper Stu Frink and Maple Valley Police Chief Michelle Bennett. - Courtesy photo
Fourth-grade student Avery Estes shows off her prize, a laptop computer, for creating the winning entry in the distracted driving art contest. Joining her are Washington State Patrol Lt. Ken Noland, left, Trooper Stu Frink and Maple Valley Police Chief Michelle Bennett.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Glacier Park Elementary student Avery Estes is an effective communicator, as drivers along SR 169 between Maple Valley and Renton will discover in September. A billboard on SR 169 near Cedar Grove Road SE, will display Avery’s winning poster in a contest to promote safe driving by reducing distractions.

The billboard contest is sponsored by the Washington State Patrol, Maple Valley Police, Tahoma School District and King County Emergency Medical Services.

Avery, daughter of Michael and Jill Estes of Maple Valley, created a drawing that advises drivers not to use their cell phones while driving. The artwork features a cell phone surrounded by a “no” symbol and the words, “Shut off and drive.”

In addition to having her art displayed on the billboard for the entire month of September, Avery won an HP laptop computer that was presented to her in a brief ceremony during fourth-grade lunch at Glacier Park Elementary School June 17.

Maple Valley Police Chief Michelle Bennett presented the award, along with State Patrol Trooper Stu Frink and Lt. Ken Noland. Avery knew she had won the contest and even had a speech prepared.

“I would like to thank my family and my class, I couldn’t do it without them,” she said, as her classmates clapped and shouted their approval.

Avery was in Andy Hanson’s class at Glacier Park this year. She was among hundreds of third- and fourth-grade students in Tahoma School District who were invited to enter the safe-driving contest in early May.

Second-and third-place prizes were awarded to Alyssa Stern at Rock Creek Elementary School and Bogdan Myronets at Lake Wilderness Elementary.

The contest is part of a joint effort by Washington State Patrol and Maple Valley police to reduce distracted driving, with an emphasis to improve safety for students who ride school buses. The law enforcement agencies began using emphasis patrols in February to identify and cite drivers who are not driving safely near school buses.

The State Patrol and Maple Valley police are partnering in Operation S.A.F.E (Speed, Aggressive Driving, Fail to Stop and Enforcement), a proactive and educational approach to keeping students safe when exiting and entering school buses while stopped. The law enforcement agencies, with assistance from King County EMS, added distracted driving to their enforcement and education activities.

WSP Trooper Suzanne Padgett said a one-day enforcement emphasis in February produced 25 violations that included speed, cellular phone use and “paddle board” violations involving drivers who ignored school bus stop paddles and lights. Two weeks ago, a subject driving near a school bus was arrested for DUI. Last week, in a 45 minute period, there were six related violations, she said.

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