This Dodge City 5th grader is first Kansan to win national contest

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TOPEKA (KSNT) – A 5th-grade student from Sunnyside Elementary in Dodge City has become the first Kansan to win a national contest.

Heidy Perez Veleta was recognized as the winner of the 2021 National Missing Children’s Poster Contest, which is meant to raise awareness for National Missing Children’s Day, May 25. The contest has been going on for 38 years.

Heidy, center right, takes a picture with her award together with her family

The contest was sponsored by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and KBI Director Kirk Thompson presented Veleta the award courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The winner of the competition is usually flown out to Washington D.C. and presented the award, however, the ceremony was canceled this year due to the pandemic. Because of this, the KBI hosted a short ceremony at the KBI Forensic Science Center on Washburn University’s campus. Veleta’s family and principal were at the event.

Dr. John Montford, principal at Sunnyside Elementary in Dodge City, said he “was really surprised” when he found out she had won at the national level.

“I knew she was talented, I knew she could win the state-level contest, but to win the national level is a great honor,” said Montford.

Veleta’s poster, which consists of two hands forming the shape of a heart around a child, finished first out of 97 entries in Kansas. The poster then went on to beat over 800 submissions on the national level.

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