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Zukeran 4th Grader Becomes Yellow Pages Star

By: Brandon Arakaki

Date Posted: 2000-02-27

Ms. Saya Novinger, a 9-year-old 4th grade student at the Zukeran Elementary School, recently became the first person on the island to win the freshly introduced Okinawa Yellow Pages Front Cover Art Contest. Little Saya’s colorful dragon picture can now be seen decorating the front cover of the Okinawa Yellow Pages’ latest (12th) edition.

According to the Zukeran student’s mother, Michiko Novinger, the artwork was introduced into the contest at the last minute thanks to the intervention and insistence of a young family friend, Sakura Holst. “She had so much trust in our daughter’s talent, and she really believed that Saya would win if she competed,” Mrs. Michiko Novinger told Japan Update. “We’re happy for Saya, and we know she’s thankful to her friend Sakura.”

Yoko Matsushima, Senior Editor of the Okinawa Yellow Pages, explained how the idea of the Front Cover Art Contest first came to be: “I thought it would be a good idea to get the children involved in the marketing of our product, because it’s always a lot of fun to collect art from school children. It was the first time we did it this way, and I think it was a very exciting exercise. We chose the Number One picture for our front page, though all the rest were equally good art.”

Ms. Matsushima said that a total of 21 students competed in the challenge. Their drawings were chosen by the various Art teachers in the different DODD schools in Okinawa. It was an open contest for children from Kindergarten to High School. As such, according to the Senior Editor, Saya Novinger’s success was outstanding for her age and the stiff competition she faced.

The little girl’s picture will be on the Front Page of all 27,000 copies of the Okinawa Yellow Pages’ Millennium issue. The publication - which has an exhaustive phone directory of Okinawa - also granted Saya Novinger a framed certificate in recognition of her artistic ingenuity. The formal award ceremony took place at Zukeran Elementary on Tuesday, February 22nd.

Two other DODDS-Okinawa students were awarded 2nd and 3rd place in the contest: Aleks Bennett, a 3rd Grader at Kinser Elementary School, was nominated for second place, while Abigail Zulock, a 5th Grader in Edward C. Killin Elementary School, received third place. Both of the runners-up also received prizes from the Okinawa Yellow Pages.

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