Harrisburg - Nine Pennsylvania students, including Nicole Leshko of McAdoo, have been selected as winners in the state's aviation art contest and have been forwarded for judging in the national competition. Leshko received third place in the senior category. The contest theme was "Flying Saves Lives."

"Each year that we invite students to show their creativity in this contest, we're impressed with their skill and imagination," PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. "We hope that the contest helps our students learn more about how important aviation is in our lives - for safety, the economy and mobility."

Entries were judged in three categories: the Junior category includes those born between Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2007; the Intermediate category includes those born between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2003; and the Senior category includes those born between Jan. 1, 1996, and Dec. 31, 1999. Each age group's top three winners in the national competition will be submitted to the Federation Aeronautique Internationale for international judging.

The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) was involved in judging the nearly 100 entries, with Executive Director Philip Horn serving as a guest judge.

"The PCA is pleased to be part of the Aviation Art Contest. Through the arts we communicate, persuade, entertain and celebrate all the aspects of our work and our lives," Horn said.

The department will recognize the winners in each age group with an enlarged copy of their entry and a certificate signed by Schoch. The students' schools will also receive an enlarged copy of the artwork for display.

To see the winning entries, visit www.dot.state.pa.us and click on "Aviation & Rail Freight," then the Bureau of Aviation. To learn more about the international contest visit www.nasao.org.