When I think of spring in Washington DC I think National Cherry Blossom Festival. Sure, there is also the beginning of a new baseball season and countless other popular events available to the public, but nothing else impacts the city, visually, financially or emotionally, quite like the cherry blossoms.
I once again had the pleasure of discovering how the cities’ youth envision this iconic symbol of springtime in the nation’s capital. As the sponsor of two youth programs at the National Cherry Blossom Festival – the Youth Poster Art Contest and the Youth Ambassadors Program, Sodexo had the opportunity to participate in the festival’s opening day presentations. It was there that I had the honor of welcoming the winners of the Youth Poster Art Contest on stage and introducing them to those in attendance. Their artistic works were exhibited at the National Building Museum and viewed by thousands of visitors attending the ceremonies.
The creativity and talent demonstrated in the artwork of these K-12 students from Washington DC’s public and charter schools was tremendous. Tasked only with submitting entries that drew inspiration from the cherry blossoms and the message of friendship and good will that they represent, students from 24 area schools submitted posters in the form of digital artwork, paintings, drawing and works involving mixed media.
It was exciting to see how the students managed to capture the beauty and the sentiment of the blossoms in their work. In speaking with many of them it was clear that they likewise understood the special message that the blossoms signify this year, in the wake of Japan’s still unfolding tragedy.
The depictions of enduring friendship, unity and hope for a bright future were themes that could be seen in numerous poster entries, including that of overall winner, seventh grader Samia Hall of Kelly Miller Middle School.
Their vision of the cherry blossom is larger than the pink and white petals that draw more than a million tourists from around the world. It’s always refreshing to see this harbinger of spring from a fresh new perspective.
Scott Loretan is senior vice president, of the Sodexo Schools Segment