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Princeton artist is ‘poster child' for American Legion
For the first time, a local girl has won national recognition for her artwork in the American Legion Auxiliary's poppy poster contest.
The annual contest is open to elementary and high school students in Colusa and Glenn counties.
Fiorella Perez, 11, of Princeton, was notified of her achievement Saturday at the monthly meeting of the Jefferson Wynn Unit No. 98 of the American Legion at Princeton Elementary School.
Perez previously won certificates and cash awards for her poster, which won first place at the local, District No. 4 and the state levels of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Her poster was then selected by a panel of judges as the best poster for the Western Division of the United States.
"Fiorella's is the first national award I have presented in the 25 years that I have been poppy chairman," said Lorie Dowden, District No. 4 president.
The red poppy was first chosen as the American Legion's memorial flower in 1921 and worn in memory of the men who lost their lives in World War I.
Today, the paper flowers are made by disabled veterans, and provide a source of income and raise funds for relief work among handicapped veterans and their families.
Princeton Auxiliary volunteers will distribute the familiar red handcrafted poppies honoring America's war dead throughout the month of May.
The poppy poster contest, which the Auxiliary has sponsored for many years, helps promote the poppy as the symbol of those who have been lost or disabled in the defense of freedom, Dowden said.
"The work can only be done by one person," Dowden said. "That is why they were usually done in the classroom. But now we have opened the contest to home-schooled students and members of 4-H and Boys and Girls Scout organizations who are under supervision."
The deadline to enter posters to the Princeton American Legion for this year's contest is April 27.
Perez said she was thrilled when she won at the District 4 and state levels, but never imagined her poster would make its way to receiving such high honors in the national competition.
"I'm excited and my family is very proud," she said.
Perez said she was inspired by her two cousins, Francisco Pimenta, a Maxwell High School graduate and David Estrada, a Williams High School graduate.
Pimenta, a marine who served in the Iraq War, is now serving in the US Army.
Estrada served in Iraq War while in the US Navy.
For the Princeton American Legion Auxiliary, connecting the visual image of the poppy with the sacrifice of service made by veterans has been an important goal.
That is why Dowden offers to talk to classrooms and organizations who want their kids to participate in the contest about the contest requirements.
"The rules are specific," Dowden said. "The poppy in the poster must be the correct shade of red and have four red petals, no leaves, and a center of black or green."
Although she has seen many posts where children have been creative, only posters whose poppies meet the Auxiliary's requirements are selected for cash awards.
"Fiorella's poster was beautiful," Dowden said. "Her poppy was spot on. She also included the cross and Star of David, and it had a good slogan that honors veterans."
Although Glenn and Colusa County students have competed and won against students in the 12 Northern California counties that make up District 4, Dowden said she was surprised when she heard Perez' name announced as the Western Division's national winner at the District meeting at Travis Air Force Base.
Perez' family attended the presentation in Princeton on Saturday, although Perez was unaware that her poster had won at the national level until Dowden made the announcement.
The American Legion Auxiliary will keep her original poster, but Perez was given a framed color copy.
Perez is a sixth grader at Princeton Elementary School.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or email@example.com.