Sisters Ananda Joy Kao, right, 8, and sister Zeena Kao, 4, get started on their poster for the townwide environmental poster and essay contest. Youngsters in Andover have until Nov. 1 to submit poster and essays about recycling and environmental issues; winners will be recognized by the Board of Selectmen. Ananda Joy is a third-grader at West Elementary and Zeena is in the pre-kindergarten program at Bright Horizons in Andover.

The saying goes "The pen is mightier than the sword." Andover's Recycling Committee is charging local youngsters to use their pen — and crayons, markers and paints — to make a point in a townwide essay and poster contest.

Students in kindergarten through eighth-grade can submit their creations on any environmental topic — via prose or poster board, said Candy Dann, a recycling committee member helping to organize the contest.

This is the first poster and essay contest the committee has sponsored.

"Children are very powerful, and my hope is that we'll have some really compelling posters and essays," Dann said. "So far, kids have been excited to participate. I feel like there's a momentum building, and this is part and parcel of a number of things going on (in town)."

Besides the essay contest, Memorial Hall Library is hosting "Go Green at Your Library" month, an environmental series featuring weekly speakers, a green living fair and recycling projects, Dann noted. The Planning Department also recently proposed forming a green advisory board.

All entries to the poster and essay contest are due by Nov. 1. Winners, selected by the seven-member recycling committee, will be recognized in front of the Andover selectmen and given a small prize, she said.

There will be one winner from each of two grade groupings for the posters (kindergarteners and first-graders, and second- and third-graders) and one winner selected from each of two grade groupings for the essays (fourth- and fifth-graders, and sixth- through eighth-graders).

Posters from the contest will be displayed at Memorial Hall Library.

The idea for the contest started when Dann attended a statewide conference on environmentally-friendly products last year, and "incredible" essays written by students in a statewide contest were on display, she said.

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