By Kaylee Lindenmuth
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - Five Schuylkill County schools participated in the first Paint the Plow contest held by PennDOT in the county, and judging took place this morning at the maintenance building in Schuylkill Haven.
The panel of judges included media members from the Schuylkill County area, including WYLN-TV 35 and The Shenandoah Sentinel.
Students and faculty members from Mahanoy Area and Shenandoah Valley were also present to accompany their plows.
Additionally, plows painted by students from North Schuylkill, Tamaqua Area, and Pine Grove were displayed.
Sean Brown, a PennDOT press officer, noted that the program was brought to Schuylkill and Monroe Counties this year, and they're looking to work out kinks and improve the program for next year.
"It's really a good way to engage the kids, and create a way to get the message out and do something a little bit different, and hopefully it'll be fun for the kids," said Brown. "We're pretty excited about the participation."
Gia Sanko and Gabriella Langston, both Shenandoah Valley seniors, painted the Blue Devils' plow with the support of art teacher Bill Kreiger.
"It was fun," Sanko said of the experience. "It was really fun to work with Gabby and Mr. Kreiger."
Of the design, she said "We were thinking about doing something simple, easy, and we didn't want to go too crazy about it," adding that the stenciled devil head idea came from a recent class mural.
The Shenandoah Valley plow incorporated multiple stencil designs, including the SV Blue Devils logo, using the traditional school colors.
Mahanoy Area's design came about as a combination of two idea submissions, by junior Darrell Sippie and sophomore Jade Lazer.
Sippie said that ideas were submitted on a 4x12 piece of paper and voted on by the school board.
"Mine won, but my lettering is not the best, and Jade's won, so we decided to combine both of them together and do a collaboration," said Sippie.
Sippie added that roughly 70 hours of work went into painting the plow, which depicts two bears roaring on a snowy background.
"Some nights, I was up until 9:00 using my mom's headlights to try to get light," said Sippie, adding rainy weather also caused difficulties.
Asked about being able to attend the event, Sippie added, "I'm happy that I'm allowed to be here, because our school doesn't do a lot with the arts. It's mainly all sports, like normal high schools, so it's good to know there is stuff in Pennsylvania that is regarding the arts, and I'm very proud to be here representing Mahanoy.
The Mahanoy plow was painted with the support of art teacher Dorothy Scicchitano.
No students or staff from North Schuylkill were present at the judging, though their plow depicts two Spartans, donning the school colors, plowing snow.
Media members were invited to vote on the plows, and voting consisted of ranking the plow's performance in specific categories from 1-10, such as creativity, originality, sticking with the theme, among others.
A fan vote is also ongoing until Tuesday, November 6, according to Brown, where the public can "like" their favorite on Facebook to vote. You can do so here.
The votes will be tallied over the weekend, and a winner hopefully will be announced next week, Brown said.