Students from Marina del Rey Middle School in Del Rey, under the guidance of teacher Nancy Hanover, captured first place and a $1,000-prize in the Traffic Safety Mural Project 2008, an art competition to raise traffic safety awareness among teenagers and the community.

The winning art team received the award at a ceremony Tuesday, May 6th, at the school, 12500 Braddock Drive, Del Rey.

Representing the contest’s sponsoring organizations were Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Terry Hara, chief of operations for West Bureau; Capt. Nancy Lauer, commanding officer of the West Traffic Division; a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) police representative; Rick Lalor, motor sports manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California; and representatives from City Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office.

This annual mural project, open to L.A. Unified middle schools, requires art students to design and paint a wall-size mural depicting themes of traffic safety and awareness in an effort to enhance the quality of life in their community. The winning mural by Marina del Rey Middle School students carried the theme of “Anti-DUI,” illustrating the point that the problem of “driving under the influ- ence” still exists and affects all communities.

Samuel Gompers Middle School finished in second place and will receive a $500 prize for its mural entry and Thomas Starr King Middle School will be awarded $300 for its third-place entry.

Officials presented Marina del Rey Middle School with certificates and prizes at the award ceremony.

The Automobile Club of Southern California sponsors the Traffic Safety Mural Project in conjunction with the Los Angeles Police Department and L.A. Unified. Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester assisted in judging the murals.