On Tuesday, representatives of the sixth annual Pacoima Pride Arts Project visited several area schools to encourage students to participate.
It wasn't all that tough a task.
One student from each grade level will receive a $100 savings bond for his or her entry.
"We get a chance to draw our feelings to show everyone," said Jason Olah, 13. And, "The competition is fun, 'cause you can win $100."
TransWorld Bank, which sponsors the arts project, sent its officials to six Pacoima schools, where they unveiled this year's theme, "My Life, Our Future."
"Individual responsibility and civic contribution" are the two main elements of the theme, said Elizabeth Nielsen, a vice president at TransWorld and the program's principal organizer.
"The first year we did this we saw a lot of negative images--gangs, graffiti, violence--you could see that some of the kids had a negative view of their community," she said.
"Through the years, the images have become a lot more positive--more light, more hope. That's very encouraging."
Later this month, students will submit their completed artworks to a panel of judges, including TransWorld officials and City Councilman Richard Alarcon.
At least one first-place winner will be selected from each grade level at each school, Nielsen said, and those children will receive savings bonds.
Second-place and honorable-mention winners will receive prizes as well, and every student who participates will get a certificate. A selection of the works will be displayed at City Hall.
Jacqueline Torres, 13, an eighth-grader at Mary Immaculate School, was a first-place winner last year. She said she was saving her prize money for college.
"I like this contest because you can express your ideas about the community," she said. "I like it here, it's a good place to live."
Lisa Gonzalez, 12, said she hopes the artworks show the sometimes neglected positive attributes of her community. "This project shows we do have pride in Pacoima," she said. "Even though people say it has bad parts, it's still nice."
The schools participating this year are Mary Immaculate, Haddon Avenue Elementary, Montague Charter Academy, Pacoima Elementary, Telfair Avenue Elementary and Vaughn Next Century Learning Center.