Hays Middle School sixth-grader Kristen Kuhl is the first state and merit winner in the Lions International Peace Poster Contest.

She joined winners from China, Italy, Mexico, Romania and Spain.

This year’s theme for the poster was “Share Peace.”

Kristen used pieces of pizza being extended by arms of many colors to illustrate her idea.

“Sharing pieces of pizza could make the world a better place,” Kristen said.

She is a student of art teacher Kim Schneweis.

Schneweis said the poster contest usually is the second project of the year for her sixth-grade students, and all of them complete entries.

Kristen completed two sketches of her idea before drawing the final poster. She has art class every other day, and worked on the project for a couple of weeks.

HMS students in Ian Satomi’s class also entered the contest.

Each teacher picked the top three posters in their class, Kristen said.

Reece Leiker was the first place winner in Satomi’s class.

Jean Gleichsner, Lions Club poster contest organizer, selected the winner in each class which would advance to the district contest.

Kristen and Reece were recognized at a luncheon during the district convention earlier this month.

As the district winner, Kristen’s poster went on to the state contest.

“This is the first year the Hays Lions Club had a state winner,” Gleichsner told the USD 489 Board of Education last week. “It’s a great opportunity to pass that poster on to the international.”

Kristen was one of 24 students selected as international merit winners.

As a merit winner, she received a certificate signed by the international president of the Lions Club and a check for $500.

“She’s always been an artist,” Sara Kuhl said of her daughter.

Neither she nor Kristen’s father, Stephen, claim any artistic talent.

“I don’t know where she gets the creative bug from. Her sister (Caitlin) also won the local contest two years ago,” Sara Kuhl said.

“I wish her luck. She has a great career ahead of her if she decides to pursue art,” Gleichsner said.

The international peace poster contest started in 1989, and the Hays chapter has been participating since 2004.

Other winners in Schneweis’ class are Jaren Kanak-McGrath, second place, and Hannah Swander, third place, and Jada Thomas, second place, and Kaleigh Dreiling, third place in Satomi’s class.

All students received certificates of participation, and the top three places will receive gift cards.

“It’s a great opportunity for the Lions Club to work with the schools,” Gleichsner said.

All of the students’ posters are on display at the Hays Public Library during April.