LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A local school got quite the surprise today thanks to a handful of students doing their part.
Tens of students from Episcopal Day School, EDS, submitted their artwork, photography or essay into the America's Wetland Foundation contest called "Keep Your Eye on the Prize."
Today when the nine statewide winners were announced, EDS had a lot to celebrate.
The foundation holds a contest each year to teach students the importance of Louisiana's wetlands. Students can submit artwork and photography depicting the wetlands or write an essay about the importance of wetland preservation. Eleven-year-old Aniese Kattash won the photography section in his age group, and he was also the overall winner for the category.
"When I saw the amount of people that tried I actually didn't think that I, was actually kind of surprised that I was the one who won out of everyone," said Kattash.
Additional age group photography winners also came from EDS. Seven-year-old Kaitlin Miller won for her picture of a sunset on Calcasieu River. Fourteen-year-old Emily Hart also won with a picture of a sunset and its reflection in the water. Both young students have a message to Louisiana students.
"Pick up the trash in the lakes and the rivers," said Miller.
"Protect the wetlands," said Hart. "Watch what you throw on the ground. Just don't litter and be thankful for how beautiful Louisiana is."
The fourth winner from EDS is nine-year-old Wesley Maze. Maze won the art category for kindergarten to third grade with his depiction of a wetlands scene. It included turtles, trees and flying ducks.
"I just thought about whenever I went into the flooded timbers with my dad and I also thought about what I have seen before driving by," said Maze. "And I just thought about the turtles. All kinds of stuff. I thought about the moss hanging from the trees."
Each winner received five thousand dollars to put towards new equipment and materials in their classrooms and to help fund a school wetlands restoration project.
The students will go on a field trip and to plant vegetation to help restore and preserve Louisiana's wetlands.
The overall winner in each category received an additional one thousand dollars, bringing the grand total to 21,000 dollars for EDS.