Saturday, December 7, 2019
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul poses with Kennedy Hamilton and her parents Nathan and Amber Hamilton at the assembly last week. Herald photos by Nicole Vik.Hamilton’s poster represents a girl who has gone missing and has to find her way home.

Bangor student wins statewide poster contest

It was a big surprise for young Kennedy Hamilton, a fifth grader at Bangor Elementary School, when Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced last week that Hamilton had won the statewide “Bring Our Missing Children Home” poster contest.

In past years, Bangor Elementary has produced six first-place winners of the poster contest, including last year’s winner Alyssa Heitkamp.

According to teacher Deb Gerke, the fact that Hamilton won was kept a secret until the assembly last week where she was recognized as the winner in front of the entire student body along with her teachers and family.

As the winner, she received a handshake from the attorney general, and a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C.

Kaul gave Hamilton praise for her use of symbolism, the way her poster captures the challenges missing children face.

“I am really honored to be here because it’s such an important cause,” he said. “Everybody who participated is helping to raise awareness about the importance of finding missing children.”

Hamilton’s poster design featured a bald eagle with a maze on its chest. A missing girl stood at the entrance to the maze and her home was at the end.

Hamilton said the story of her poster is that the girl went missing and she has to find her way home.  

Regarding her poster, Hamilton wrote, “My missing child poster represents what missing children have to go through. The eagle stands for courage and strength. The maze represents all of the obstacles that a missing child has to go through.”

Hamilton added that during the process of making her poster, she learned there are approximately 44 missing children in Wisconsin currently.  

“One of the biggest things that kids have to go through when they’re missing is dealing with not being around their family and friends,” Hamilton empathized, adding her poster being selected was a big surprise to her. “It still doesn’t register that I won.”

The contest was administered in Wisconsin by the Department of Justice Clearinghouse for Missing Persons, which actively assists law enforcement, victim families, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and other missing children organizations in cases involving missing children, human trafficking victims and children who are victims of enticement via the Internet.  

It provides technical investigative assistance, referrals and advocacy in navigating the criminal justice system, along with other resources to families of children and/or adults who are missing and considered endangered in the state of Wisconsin, nationwide and internationally.

According to WI Clearinghouse Program Coordinator Michelle DuBois, Hamilton’s winning poster will advance to the national contest to compete with all of the other states’ winners.

The winner of the national competition will win a trip to Washington, D.C. in May for National Missing Children’s Day to help the state raise awareness of those who are missing.

As part of last week’s presentation, Matt Joy, director of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation gave a presentation regarding staying safe online.

“The rules or guidelines we have when we use technology and the internet are also the same rules that apply in our daily life,” he said. “These are things we need to keep talking about and we need to help our friends, our brothers and sisters, moms and dads and other people we love to make sure everyone is making good decisions about being safe when we use technology.”

Joy talked about proper “netiquette” with the kids and their responsibility to be respectful to others on social media. He also told the students they should never share any personal information online, they should never meet anyone face to face that they “met” online and if they see anything that makes them feel uncomfortable they should tell a trusted adult.

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