Six students from Springfield and West Springfield in grades 3-5 and 6-8 were awarded prizes in the Big E's poster and essay contest titled, "My Family, My Heritage" (Mi Familia, Mi Herencia). Pictured left to right are Malyssin Houle, eighth grader from West Springfield Middle School (third place); Big E President Wayne McCary; Ariel Tanon, fifth grader from Samuel Bowles Elementary School (third place); Luis Valcarcel, eighth grader from Kiley Middle School (first place); Juan Saenz, eighth grader from Kiley Middle School (second place); and Stephanie Marie Soto, fourth grader from Samuel Bowles Elementary School (first place). Miguel Danes (not pictured), a fifth grader from Mittineague School in West Springfield, won second place.
First place winners were presented with a Playstation 3. An iPOD Nano was given to each second place winner. Third place winners received $50 gift certificates to Best Buy. In addition to their prizes, each student had the opportunity to ride a special Mardi Gras float in that day's parade.
More than 1,000 entries were submitted from which a group of community leaders had the difficult task of selecting the winners. The judges included Nayra Bryan of Univision in Hartford, Conn.; Carlos Gonzalez, president of the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce; Fibian Pierre-Maxwell, assistant principal of Chestnut Accelerated Middle School in Springfield; and Jos Tosado, Springfield city councilor and past president.