Poster children of Nevada |

Poster children of Nevada

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Fritsch Elementary School third-graders Jia Wong-Fortunado, 8, and Mark Huckabay, 9, work on their posters Wednesday. Nevada Commission on Tourism Director Tim Maland chose Wong-Fortunado's poster as the contest winner.

A pinch of snow, a dash of gambling and a little hot air ballooning on the side – that’s Nevada.

At least that’s Nevada to a group of Fritsch Elementary School third graders. Participants in the school’s Gifted and Academically Talented Education Exploration Program were charged last week to come up with a poster that best personified what Nevada means to them.

After a quick tutorial in cutting out symmetrical letters and “placement and poster design” from retired third grade teacher Ken Dressler of Gardnerville, the scent of glue mixed with paste mixed with magic marker permeated the classroom as the 20-plus students cleared a space on Formica desktops and sprawled on the floor to create a construction paper homage to their home state.

“Right now I’m putting on trees – this is a Lake Tahoe scene,” said Ryan Tonita, 8. “I like to go up there. It’s good for skiing and stuff.”

In true Silver State fashion, when Dressler – who retired last year after 30-plus years teaching in Gardnerville but helps lead the after-school program because it “keeps (him) sharp and close to the classroom,” – asked the students in mid-poster what words they associated with Nevada, answers flew about the room.

“Burning Man.”

Recommended Stories For You


“Slot machines.”


Tim Maland, director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism was on-hand to check out the posters, pick the best one to be displayed on Nevada Day, and listen to what the students thought of the state he makes a living promoting.

“It’s good to just come out and see what they think of the state,” said Maland. “We rely on tourism and I think some of them already have a good grasp of that.”

“I’m making a slot machine because there’s a lot of gambling here,” said Anna Lucia Kinder, 8. “But there’s things to do outdoors too.”

Megan Tingle, 8, said it was difficult for her to come up with a poster concept because “everything you can do here is pretty fun.”

In the end, she chose to depict Nevada with hot air balloons floating over Lake Tahoe.

“I think that does it,” she said.

Maland, the sole judge, praised all the students’ efforts, but in the end thought Jia Wong-Fortunado’s depiction of Nevada’s natural surroundings was a stand-out effort.

“It’s a really hard decision,” he said. “They all really get it so well.”

Wong-Fortunado’s poster will be on display during the Nevada Day celebration on Oct. 27 near the Legislative Lawn.

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at or 881-1219.