Blue Jay Day was a full day of celebrations as Spring Lake Elementary School recognized its history, as well as its place in the city of Ocoee's history.
Christine Moore, Orange County Public School Board member, hosted the event, which included two live bird shows and a tasting of passionflower tea.
Students wrote essays and poetry, and winners of the poetry contest were announced in the school foyer once the finalists read their poems. Competing for the top three places — and the opportunity to have their poems displayed at Ocoee City Hall — were Krista Parker, Kalina Puccio, Isabella Baez, Zoey Gray, Kiana Napier, Analise Perez, Alexa Nava, Ryan Kantor, Kyle Hannon and Lillian Jones.
After the poems were read, Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson praised the students for their creativity and announced that all 10 would be featured at City Hall.
Trista Fitzpatrick was named the winner of the school's art contest, and she received a blue ribbon for her creative paper-mache bluejay.
The purpose of these special days, Moore said, is to showcase the value of schools in the community and how the schools are strengthened when the two entities work together.
She cited the recent cleaning up of the so-called Pig Alley, a walking path many students use to get to school. In recent months, several faith-based groups, led by High Point Church, cleaned the walkway and painted a mural.
Another mural to benefit the students is painted in a hallway just off the school's main office. Central Florida artist Lisa Mikler cut the ribbon to dedicate the artwork.
Her original mission was to paint three panels to hang on the wall depicting an outdoor scene of Ocoee's Spring Lake and 34 different birds in their habitat, but it was difficult to paint the entire scene on these panels. Instead, the mural extends across the entire wall, and the panels can be kept in place or removed and displayed elsewhere. Off to the side is a television with bird videos and songs. A code book with a QR reader helps students identify all the birds in the mural.
This is the second such event in Ocoee hosted by Moore, and Johnson was on hand to welcome her each time. Two weeks ago, a similar Cardinal Day was held at Ocoee Elementary.
Mayor Johnson, who grew up in Ocoee, said, children have always played an important role in the city.
“(Spring Lake and Ocoee elementary schools) are a mainstay of what Ocoee has always been,” he said, recognizing the city's and the schools' rich histories.