Suns News

Suns and Southwest Airlines Send Contest Winners on the Road

Ten lucky Valley seventh-graders jetted off to Washington, D.C. after winning the Symbol of Freedom Art & Essay Contest.
Posted: March 7, 2007

The Phoenix Suns and their official airline, Southwest Airlines, teamed up to treat 10 seventh-graders to a fabulous learning experience and the trip of a lifetime to tour our country’s symbols of freedom in Washington, D.C. on January 21.

The Symbol of Freedom Art & Essay Contest challenged Maricopa Country seventh-graders to depict, through their art and an essay – what “Freedom” means to them. A panel of judges chose 10 winners from Dr. Bernard Black Elementary, Bogle Jr. High, Hillcrest Middle School, Pan-American Elementary, Paradise Education Center, Tempe Preparatory Academy, and Sevilla West. The selections were based on the students’ creativity, expression, artistic and writing talent, and level of interest in art and history.

“The kids did a great job earning a trip to the nation’s capital,” Vice President of Player Programs Mark West said. “There are so many different avenues to be creative, particularly when it comes to writing about your thoughts on the country. And the competition between the kids, that’s reminiscent of sports. It’s a combination of all those different aspects that comes with heart, creativity – whether it’s in our sport or whether it comes from a forum like this for the kids. Throughout life, lessons are well learned and obviously these kids have learned it really well.”

The 10 winning pieces of art were displayed at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter during the holidays. The children were sent off, Southwest-style, with a party that included special guests Suns Alumni Connie Hawkins and Tim Kempton, Phoenix Suns Dancers, Audio Sol Patrol, and the Phoenix Suns Gorilla. In Washington, D.C., the kids explored the Capitol, White House, and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. While at the Capitol, the children viewed winning artwork from the Congressional Art Contest, a contest for high school students which inspired the Symbol of Freedom Art Contest. Last, but not least, the young fans cheered the Suns to victory over the Washington Wizards, and had a chance to meet a few of the players after the game. These budding Symbol of Freedom artists are true winners!