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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
• What are the next 5 top selling tags? (2) Helping Sea Turtles Survive (3) University of Florida (4) Miami Heat (5) Florida State University (as of 2019).
• How many tags are sold each year and how much money is raised? 1.7 million Specialty Tags; $39 million statewide (as of June 2019)
Ledger reporter Kimberly C. Moore can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7514. Follow her on Twitter at @KMooreTheLedger.