With that in mind, Diane Gaydos, a fourth grade and social studies teacher at Guttenberg's Anna L. Klein School, asked her students if they wanted to participate in a poster contest sponsored by the Hudson County Board of Freeholders and the County Clerk, highlighting the best facets of the county.
The contest, entitled "My County," asked the fourth grade students to draw something about Hudson County that they liked best. All of the fourth grade students among the county's 13 municipalities were eligible for the contest, which was set up to celebrate County Government Week throughout the state in April.
Gaydos' students completed their posters during their spring recess and they were submitted to County Clerk Javier Inclan's office to be judged. Inclan is a Guttenberg native.
When Gaydos' students sent in the posters, the teacher didn't think anything else would come from it.
"I never expected anything," Gaydos said. "I was impressed that we got so many kids interested, especially for them to draw them on their free time. It was all done voluntarily and on their own."
One of the students who took a special amount of pride in the contest was Jeannie Telles. The talented Telles, whose parents hail from El Salvador, loves to draw and is confident in her artistic ability.
"I was positive that I might win," Telles said. "I'm very creative and I like to draw. I draw a lot of things for my family and friends. I wanted to be in this contest, because I really thought I had a chance to win."
For her poster subject, Telles chose to draw pictures of the Hudson County park system. "I thought that if people saw my poster, they would want to go and see the parks," Telles said. "They would go to see if what I drew was true. I drew a lot of different things about the parks. I really liked what I did."
Apparently, so did the judges, because Telles was named last week as the grand prize winner of the contest, with seven of Telles' classmates being recognized for their participation in the contest with certificates of appreciation.
Since she was the grand prize winner, Telles will get a chance Monday to tour the Hudson County administration building and meet some of the chief executives of county government, including Inclan and County Surrogate Donald DeLeo, a North Bergen native.
Telles will also receive a prize from the Board of Freeholders, although that award is being kept a secret for now.
"I'm very excited about it," Telles said. "I really never get a chance to go to places like this. And I'm getting an award, which makes it even more exciting. It's a good feeling to be recognized."
Telles' winning poster has been on display in the Brennan County Courthouse for the last week and will remain there through the month.
Needless to say, Gaydos was stunned by her class' performance in the contest.
"I am speechless," Gaydos said. "I never expected them to do so well, and for Jeannie to get first place, it really is amazing."
Klein School Principal Robert Tholen echoed those sentiments. "I think it's a case of these children expressing their civic pride," Tholen said. "You figure that hundreds of schools were able to participate in the contest and we were able to get so much recognition, including the top prize. It's very honorable and we're very proud of Jeannie for getting the award."