The Gainesville Civic Center was filled with proud parents and students Monday night during the Cooke County Fire Association Poster Contest.

Last week, during National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 6-10), Cooke County elementary students from kindergarten to sixth grade were asked to create posters depicting fire safety.

Fire Departments within those districts then chose the top three posters from the schools. In total, 10 prizes were given for each grade including grand champion, reserve champion, first-third place and five honorable mentions.

There were a total of 70 awards given during Monday night’s dinner held at 6:30 p.m. The dinner included hotdogs, chips, cookies and drinks. Prior to the awards ceremony, parents and students could browse over the four tables covered with the colorful posters.

Third grade Grand Champion Morgan Yarbrough from Era Elementary proudly showed her friends her winning creation.

Her poster’s message focused on the importance of having a meeting place in case of a fire.

“If your house is on fire, you really need to have a meeting spot because you need to have one so you can meet and call someone for help,” said Yarbrough.

Like in her picture, Yarbrough said her family’s meeting place is at their mail box.

Second grade Reserve Champion Sydney Lane, also from Era Elementary, took a different approach with her poster.

“Mine won because it was the most different in my class and it was the only one with a saying,” said Lane.

Her poster’s theme was the danger of matches. The saying was, “Don’t play with matches!”

“Matches are really dangerous because they can start a whole house fire,” added Lane.

Lane said while she knows there are matches in her own home, her family keeps them in safe places located in a cabinet and in a bathroom.

Karen Graham, secretary for the Cooke County Fire Association Organization, helps conduct the contest each year. Although the dinner is a fun night for the families, Graham said it also is an important ceremony to promote the education of fire prevention.

“It helps put the awareness out there,” said Graham. “There’s actually cases where educating the children have proven to save lives.”

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