Polk Kids Tag Art contest winners put a lot on their plates

LAKELAND — Polk County Tax Collector Joe Tedder might be the biggest fan of student artwork in the county.

Every year since 2006, Tedder and his office, along with local companies, have sponsored a vehicle Kids Tag Art contest that helps to raise funds for art supplies for schools in Polk County. This week at a program at Harrison School of the Arts, he announced the 2021-2022 winners of the Tag Art contest.

“We have a great team of business partners and sponsors who have generously supported arts education in our schools through this creative program that brings value to all involved,” Tedder said in a press release.

Jocelyn Hernandez of Wendell Watson Elementary helps attach her winning tag to the front of Polk County Tax Collector Joe Tedder's vehicle where it will be displayed until the next award in 2023. The Polk County Kids Tag Art awards were announced at Harrison School of the Arts in Lakeland on Tuesday.

This year’s winners are:

  • Joceln Turner – Superintendent’s Choice Award, Wendell Watson Elementary. 
  • Jocelyn Hernandez – Tax Collector’s Choice Award, Wendell Watson Elementary. 
  • Isabella Kirchon – Heart Smart Award, Philip O’Brien Elementary. 
  • Brody Short – Driving Our Community Award, Lincoln Avenue Academy. 
  • Oumaima Belfakir – Home Sweet Home Award, Bella Citta Elementary. 
  • Jadei Gomez – Design Excellence Award, Davenport School of the Arts. 
  • June Langley – Build Your Imagination Award, Highland City Elementary. 
  • Stella Chilton – Love & Hope Award, Babson Park Elementary. 
  • Amy Powell, Brigham Academy – Teacher Tag Award – 1st Place. 
  • Christie Becker-Fitzgerald, Sandhill Elementary – Teacher Tag Award – 2nd Place. 
  • Dalphna Bunch, Garner Elementary – Teacher Tag Award – 3rd Place. 
Jocelyn Hernandez of Wendell Watson Elementary won the Tax Collector's Award at the Polk County Kids Tag Art awards ceremony at Harrison School for the Arts in Lakeland on Tuesday night. She is flanked by Polk County Tax Collector Joe Tedder Margarita Alfaro, Polk County tag agency public engagement specialist.

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Kids Tag Art has its origins in a 2002 visit to Valleyview Elementary School by Randy Hunt, Tedder’s chief deputy of administration, for the Great American Teach-In. Members of the business community visit classrooms each year for that event. Hunt gave a presentation to fifth-graders about Florida’s 120-plus specialty license plates and invited the students to create their own specialty license plate artwork. Many of the tags were clever and included beautiful artistic composition and can still be seen on the Tax Collector website at www.PolkTaxes.com.

Jocelyn Turner of Wendell Watson Elementary won the Superintendent's Choice Award sponsored by Polk County Public Schools at the Polk County Kids Tag Art awards ceremony at Harrison School for the Arts in Lakeland on Tuesday night. With her is Nancy Puri of Polk County Schools and Polk County Tax Collector Joe Tedder.

The program was such a big hit in the classroom that the Tax Collector’s Office invited all elementary schools to participate in 2006.

Tedder’s program has raised $502,391 in Polk County since its inception. Statewide, the program is in 14 counties and has raised $1.6 million for those school art programs. The tags are designed to be attached to the front of vehicles.

Jocelyn Turner, a student at Wendall Watson Elementary School, won the Superintendent Choice Award at the 2021-2022 Kids Tag Art award ceremony.

Florida’s Specialty License Plate Program

How much money is collected for license tags each year? The dollars now exceed $32 million in Polk County; $1 billion statewide. 

What was the first specialty tag and why was it developed? The Challenger tag; it provides funds for astronaut memorials and space research and economic development. $ 1.1 million annual in 2004. 

What is the best selling specialty tag? The Endless Summer plate. It has sold 94,230 plates and has raised $10,674,302 in Florida. 

Anita Shire

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