San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

School Mural Contest Promotes Conservation

STUDENTS in 10 schools around theSan José area won’t easily forget theimportance of taking care of Costa Rica’sforests – they’re reminded every time theywalk down the halls.The fourth annual environmental muralcontest, sponsored by nongovernmentalorganization FUNDECOR (Foundation forthe Development of the Central MountainRange), awarded students from 10 schools,both public and private, for painting muralsin their schools to illustrate the benefitsCosta Rica’s forests provide the countryand the world.“We wanted to show people that it’simportant to maintain the environment andconserve the forest,” said VanessaFernández, one of four students at ColegioSaint Clare, in San Juan de Tres Ríos, eastof San José, who painted the mural thattied for first prize. “People should knowthe importance of each thing that we have.We can’t throw things aside; we have torecycle and maintain resources.”Colegio Saint Clare’s mural, “TheEssence of Environmental Services,” measures48 square meters and employs a varietyof textures to show the diversity of elementsfound in the forest.Fernández, 17, and three other studentartists, Gustavo García, Laura Hidalgo andSilvia Mata, used paint, wood and stuccoto create a mosaic representing tree trunks,leaves and sky.Colegio Saint Clare tied with LiceoRoberto Gamboa Valverde in San Rafaelde Desamparados, south of San José, forfirst prize. The latter school’s mural,“Forests, an Explosion of Resources,” wascompleted by Daniela Jiménez, RandallAbarca, Jazmín Chacón and Róger Vargas.FIRST-prize-winning students, accompaniedby their supervising teachers,will go on a two-day, one-night tour toCañas, Tilarán and Arenal, in the northwesternprovince of Guanacaste.Students received their prizes in a July 1ceremony at Casa Presidencial, at whichCosta Rica’s first lady Leila Rodríguez waspresent, as well as Culture Minister GuidoSáenz. Rodríguez has supported the contestfor four years as part of her “AsíSomos” (This is How We Are) initiative topromote the strengthening of Costa Rica’scultural identity through projects in thecountry’s communities.The prize for Best Effort went to Liceode Cot, in the Cartago area, east of SanJosé. Cartago’s Liceo José Figueres Ferrer,an experimental bilingual school, won BestAdherence to Theme. Best Finish went toColegio Claretiano, in Heredia, north ofSan José, and the prize for Creativity andOriginality was awarded to Liceo SamuelSáenz Flores, also in Heredia.WINNERS were chosen by a panelcomposed of representatives from theOffice of the First Lady, the Ministry ofPublic Education, the Andamios muralgroup and FUNDECOR.Paint store Kativo Costa Rica donatedpaint for the murals, and financial institutionCredomatic sponsored the prizes.Juan Gabriel Rodríguez, 16, was oneof four students from Colegio Claretianoto paint “Conciousness, the Light forNatural Equilibrium,” which won BestFinish. The mural depicts a woman surroundedby water and butterflies, representingbalance between people andnature, Rodríguez said.“There’s so much exploitation ofresources in the world,” he said. “Bydestroying the forests, we’re reallydestroying ourselves. We think we can dowhatever we want, but that’s really not thecase.”Evania Vargas, FUNDECOR coordinatorof environmental education programs,said she is impressed with the way themural contest has grown since it startedfour years ago.“The project has surpassed our expectations,”Vargas said. “The kids have takenon a lot of responsibility; every yearthey’re trying to make their murals betterthan in years past.”

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