Grade 8 students Ava Piasta and Luke Housden won the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund annual Fire Prevention Week art contest. Piasta, first, gets a new iPad and Housden, second, a $75 gift certificate. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Grade 8 students Ava Piasta and Luke Housden won the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund annual Fire Prevention Week art contest. Piasta, first, gets a new iPad and Housden, second, a $75 gift certificate. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Two Saanich students nab top prizes in province-wide fire safety poster contest

Glanford Middle School, Saanich Fire Department help mark students’ big win

Two Saanich eighth-graders are taking home big prizes after nabbing top spots in the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund annual Fire Prevention Week art contest.

Students in Ava Piasta’s cohort headed into the gymnasium at Glanford Middle School on Monday, Dec. 14 – the rest of the student body attended the assembly virtually – to watch the teen be surprised with the grand prize in the Grade 7 to 12 category for her kitchen safety poster. Piasta was awarded an iPad and a pizza party for her class.

Fellow Grade 8 student Luke Housden was also notified that he’d been named one of the five regional prize winners in the category and received a $50 Visa gift card as well as a class pizza party.

“It was surprising,” said Ava. “I didn’t know until [today’s assembly]. And there were so many people in the contest I didn’t think I’d win. And I think Luke’s is incredible, I’m not sure how I got first place,” she added, referring to the depth of scale in Housden’s sketch.

“[Ava’s] is deserving, it’s great,” said Housden, adding she worked about an hour a day on the sketch for two weeks.

Both students plan on continuing with fine arts when they reach Grade 9.

Ava Piasta, an eighth-grader at Glanford Middle School, took home the Fire Prevention Week 2020 art contest grand prize in the Grade 7-12 category – an iPad for herself and a pizza party for her class. (Photo submitted by Sasha Skolsky)

Lt. Insp. Sean Lillis with the Saanich Fire Department’s fire prevention unit emphasized that Piasta and Housden beat out more than 1,300 entrants with their fire safety posters. He added that this is the second straight year that Glanford students have swept the fire safety art contest.

The whole school is proud of Piasta and Housden, said Glanford principal Louie Scigliano. He explained that every year, students are encouraged to enter the fire safety poster contest with encouragement from art teacher Sasha Skolsky.

Skolsky is a big supporter of the students expressing themselves and sharing their artwork, Scigliano said. He added that Skolsky’s passion makes her stand out as a teacher who goes above and beyond and is why Glanford Middle School continues to win these awards.

Skolsky, however, said all credit goes to the young artists.

“The students just have so much talent. I just try to guide them,” she said, adding that it’s “really exciting” to see them win prizes for their creativity.

In her nearly five years at Glanford, Skolsky has encouraged students to enter three annual art contests run by the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, the Royal Canadian Legion – BC/Yukon Command and FORED BC.

Luke Housden’s sketch for the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund

Skolsky – who adores her job and can often be found running around the school in her paint-splatter mask and art apron – noted that with COVID-19, the students have been in need of extra activities and she’s “over the moon” for Piasta and Housden.

In honour of the teens’ wins and their efforts to promote fire safety messaging, the Saanich Fire Department commissioned a plaque to be hung in the school, chipped in to turn the two classroom pizza party prizes into a school-wide lunch and attended the awards assembly on Dec. 14 to congratulate the winners in person.

“The whole school has just always been good about getting involved” and promoting fire safety, Lillis said.


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