Week of the Family contests announced

Orange County students are invited to write an essay or produce artwork centered around the family theme.

Last year's art contest winners
Last year's art contest winners
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Students, get out your colored pencils and your laptops for a chance to win cash prizes in two local contests sponsored by Orange County Week of the Family. This year’s theme for both contests — art and essay — is “My Family Helps Me Achieve Endless Possibilities.”

Details and entry forms can be found at weekofthefamily.org/contests.



Students in Orange County public, private and charter schools or those who are home-schooled are eligible to enter. The deadline to submit an essay is May 31.

The top essay writers receive $100, $75 and $50. Schools with the most entries also will receive the Mayor’s Cup Award presented by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

Winners are recognized at an awards banquet in the fall. They will receive an email letting them know they won and inviting them to the dinner.

Week of the Family is sponsoring this year’s art contest with The Education Guide. A total of $700 in cash prizes and theme park tickets will be awarded.

Winners are announced in the spring, and the awards ceremony is held in late spring at Crayola Experience Orlando.

The deadline for the art contest is April 11. For more information, contact Derek Berge at [email protected].

The essay contest has been held for at least 16 years; this is the second year Week of the Family has sponsored the art contest with The Education Guide, Koeppel.

The winning artwork in the 2021 contest included these local students in various age groups: Hanning Li, Bay Meadows Elementary, second place; Lucas Lopes, Frangus Elementary, third; Channing Li, Bay Meadows Elementary, first; Ashley Trickett, Gotha Middle, first; Emily Burnette, Legacy Charter High School, third.

In the 2021 essay contest, these local students were winners in their age groups: Gracie Dickson, Sand Lake Elementary, second place; Eduardo Barazarte, MetroWest Elementary, first; Sophie Casey, Bridgewater Middle, honorable mention; Mackenzie Ruel, Bridgewater, honorable mention; Ella Slattery, Bridgewater, third; Isabella Plumb, Bridgewater, first.

Other contests throughout the year include Grandparent of the Year and Family Table Time.



Penny Koeppel and Renee Raper are co-chairs of Orange County Week of the Family, whose mission is to strengthen family relationships each week of the year through education, wholesome activities, fitness and community service.

The organization celebrates 20 years next year. In 2003, two concerned mothers met with Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty to discuss strengthening families in their community. The idea for Week of the Family was born. Through their efforts, and with Crotty’s help, the first Week of the Family proclamation was signed Oct. 28, 2003.

Mayor Crotty gave his support, including a place to meet, staff members and resources to help bring together what some Orange County staff members called “the best example of citizens getting involved in the community.”

Since that time, Week of the Family celebrations have spread to numerous counties in Florida and communities in several other states. Events include free festivals, concerts, family history conferences, parent seminars and service projects that serve as a reminder to families to spend time together and strengthen those relationships.

Companies that are passionate about families are welcome to partner with the nonprofit.

While Week of the Family is officially celebrated the first full week in November, Koeppel said they are trying to “bring it out of obscurity” by holding events and contests throughout the year.

The website, weekofthefamily.org, suggests activities families can do together. On Make Time Monday, families are encouraged to partake in activities that are free or low cost. During Talk About it Tuesday, parents are tasked with discussing timely topics. The rest of the week is devoted to What’s for Dinner Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, Family Fun Friday, Just Serve Saturday and Soul Filled Sunday.

This year’s Week of the Family will be celebrated Nov. 5 through 12.




Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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