Kodiak-based students’ artwork of Coast Guard mission recognized on national stage

Living Marine Resources by Deborah Bitanga

Artwork by Deborah Bitanga, an eighth-grader at Kodiak Middle School in Kodiak, Alaska, was selected as the Best in Show for the Coast Guard’s Partnership in Education National Student Art Contest.

Three Kodiak-based students were honored for their artwork during a 20th anniversary celebration of the Coast Guard Partnership in Education program in a Coast Guard Headquarters’ ceremony Tuesday.

Artwork by Deborah Bitanga, an eighth-grader at Kodiak Middle School in Kodiak, was recognized as the Best in Show. Artwork by Abbey Raymer, a second-grader at Peterson Elementary School in Kodiak participating through the Kodiak Child Development Center, was recognized as the first place winner in the kindergarten through 2nd grade category and artwork by Madalyn Males, a third-grader at Peterson Elementary School also participating through the Kodiak Child Development Center, was selected as Honorable Mention for the 3rd through 6th grade category.

The students participated in a national art contest conducted in conjunction with the anniversary.

Living Marine Resources by Abbey Raymer

Artwork by Abbey Raymer, a second-grader at Kodiak Child Development Center in Kodiak, Alaska, was selected as 1st place winner for the KG through 2nd grade category for the Coast Guard’s Partnership in Education National Student Art Contest.

Several weeks prior to the event students around the country learned about the Coast Guard’s living marine resource mission and were asked to create artwork that represented what the mission meant to them. The three Kodiak-based pieces were selected as winners from nearly 300 entries. Winning artwork will be displayed at the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C., May 20-23; during the World Children’s Day Festival at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 17-19; and at the Coast Guard Band’s annual Veteran’s Day concert in Washington, D.C. in November.

“I believe that the oceans are an important resource that should be protected for everyone to enjoy,” said Bitanga. “If we pollute it we can never get it back. Together, we can work and learn together to promote marine resources conservation in our community to stop illegal fishing and promote a healthy ecosystem.”

Living Marine Resources by Madalyn Males

Artwork by Madalyn Males, a third-grader at Kodiak Child Development center, Kodiak, Alaska, was selected as Honorable Mention for the 3rd thru 6th grade category for the Coast Guard’s Partnership in Education National Student Art Contest.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Kage from Communication Station Kodiak worked with Kodiak Middle School and Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis from Public Affairs Detachment Kodiak worked with the Child Development Center and Peterson Elementary School. They among many other Alaska-based Coast Guardsmen volunteer time at a variety of schools around the state. Volunteers work with students on basic skills, assist teachers, provide Coast Guard presentations, serve as substitutes and help with Coast Guard unit tours.

“I enjoy school and like to see students when they apply themselves and succeed,” said Kage. “When a student is struggling with a subject and you help tutor them there is a moment when the light bulb comes on and they realize they are able to succeed and have worth and that is an amazing feeling to know you helped them even if just a little bit. It provides the students, faculty, and myself a sense of accomplishment unlike any other and I believe we all know the power of a positive role model on a young person.”

Deborah-Bitanga-and-OS3-Michael-Kage

KODIAK, Alaska - Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Kage, of Communication Station Kodiak who volunteers at Kodiak Middle School, and Deborah Bitanga, an 8th grader at Kodiak Middle School, take a moment for a photo Thursday, May 5, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

“Kage has been able to teach me about the Coast Guard and what it does,” said Bitanga.

Kage among many other Alaska-based Coast Guardsmen volunteer time at a variety of schools around the state. Volunteers work with students on basic skills, assist teachers, provide Coast Guard presentations, serve as substitutes and help with Coast Guard unit tours.

For the past 20 years, the Coast Guard has teamed up with local school systems, community organizations and businesses in an effort to enhance educational opportunities and instill a sense of core values into children across the country. Since 1991, the Coast Guard Partnership in Education program has seen more than 14,000 active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary personnel contribute more than 200,000 hours of their own time, primarily in communities with large underserved populations, serving as mentors, tutors and life coaches.

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