VICENZA, Italy -- Jim Lessard was back in elementary school last week with awards to hand out.
Less than a month after his last visit to the Vicenza Elementary School to make presentations for Energy Awareness Month, the director of the USAG Vicenza Directorate of Public Works Environmental Office was back to hand out certificates to second-grade winners of the VES energy awareness coloring book contest.
About 140 second-graders from seven classes participated by adding their artistic sense to messages about renewable energy and related important topics, and some of them were recognized at the school Nov. 19.
First-place winners were Kenna Chastain and Ava Simpson; second places went to Sydney Sumner and Anna Sarantakes; and Merissa Loggins and Elizabeth Lucey took home third-place honors.
"The contest was part of the Army's Energy Awareness Month activities during the month of October," said Lessard.
"This is our third year working with the schools, and all the DoDDS staff and principals have been very supportive in allowing us to come in and teach classes during Energy Awareness Month and Earth Week.
"The children really enjoyed the sessions and we are surprised about how much they already know on energy conservation measures and what renewable energy sources are and energy projects we have implemented here at the garrison," he said.
At the award presentation, children were excited and clapped enthusiastically for all the contest winners.
"There were six winners total, and three of them were from my Italian immersion class," said VES teacher Mary Generelli. "We reviewed the packet and I had the students work on them during our weekly gruppi rotations. Many students also worked on their packets at home."
Generelli said it is critical to teach young children to respect and care for the environment.
"My students recycle our class trash every week. We recycle paper, plastic and biodegradable waste.
We have a bin where students can place extra paper that can be used again," she said.
"One of my parents comes to our class once a week and helps some of my students take out the recycled trash every Friday. We do this every week in an effort to teach students how important it is to not be wasteful and to recycle and reuse what we can. Knowing about alternative energy sources and creating new ones is equally important," Generelli said.
With support from Vicenza DFMWR and Global Credit Union, each winner received a certificate, a cash prize and goodie bags filled with "energy awareness gadgets" such as solar flashlight key chains, 100 percent recycled content mini-notebooks, pens and other items.
Contest judges included 1st Lt. Benjamin Hurley and Staff Sgt. G. Leader of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), Brandy Reed and Kerry Van Everen of DPW, and Lessard.