Rep. Jayer Williamson (District 3) recently announced winners of his “Why I Love Northwest Florida” art contest and the students accepted into the Florida House of Representatives Page & Messenger programs for the 2019 legislative session.

With a focus on civics in education, Williamson established his inaugural “Why I Love Northwest Florida” art competition to give elementary students the opportunity to express their love of the area with the goal of increasing interest in state government. Students in kindergarten through the fifth grade submitted drawings and paintings from across House District 3, which depicted their favorite attribute of Northwest Florida.

After carefully judging all of the entries, third-grader Harper Lay of L.E.A.D. Academy was named the competition’s winner. Ciara Michulka, a fifth-grader at Pea Ridge Elementary School was named the runner-up. Lay’s painting is now hanging in Williamson’s office in the Florida Capitol and Michulka’s sketch has been placed in his district office.

“It was a great pleasure to visit these two outstanding young artists and present them with certificates honoring their accomplishments. My goal with the art program was to get the younger students excited about our area in hopes that leads to an interest in state government down the road,” Williamson said.

Williamson is also a strong advocate for existing House of Representatives Page & Messenger Programs. He sponsored a total of nine students for the 2019 session, all of whom were accepted into the program. Students in sixth through eighth grades participate as pages, assisting representatives in the House Chamber during session. Students in ninth through 12th grades serve as messengers by assisting House staff with delivering time-sensitive messages throughout the entire Capitol Complex. While performing their duties, participants have the opportunity to observe several facets of the legislative process including committee meetings and press conferences.

Whitney Peloke, an eighth-grader at Hobbs Middle School, was the first local program participant sponsored by Williamson and concluded her week at the Capitol last Friday. During her time in Tallahassee, Peloke worked on the House floor and participated in a variety of tours.

“When Representative Williamson came to our school for our blanket drive last fall, he told us about the program. I thought it would be a really cool experience to try out. This week has been a great experience for me. I wish I could have done it more than just once,” Peloke said.

Participants in the program for the remaining weeks of the 2019 session, include Nathan McKnight (11th grade) and Jonah Cleveland (12th grade) from Pace High School; Isabella Seone (eighth grade), Nataleigh Parham (seventh grade) and Liberty Moench (eighth grade) from Sims Middle School; Aubrey Miller (seventh grade) and Lucy Gongwer (eighth grade) from Avalon Middle School; and Jackson Gambrell (eighth grade) from King Middle School.

“It was an incredible honor to have Whitney at the Capitol last week. She is an outstanding young woman and it was very special that she came from Hobbs Middle School where I also went to school. I look forward to having the additional eight students join me in Tallahassee during session,” Williamson said.