Streator and Woodland high school art students tried their hand at depicting 150 years of Streator's history.
Now residents will vote on their favorite of two drawings to be depicted as a special sesquicentennial postmark.
Voting begins Saturday, April 14, at the post office, 221 E. Hickory St., and will last for one month. Votes will be tallied from postage stamps dropped in boxes representing each entry. At the conclusion, the stamps will be donated to each school.
The winning postmark will be used at the Streator Post Office after July 4 for one month. The post office is planning to distribute the postmark at Pluto Fest, July 7, along with Illinois' 200-year celebration stamp.
Clayton Sibert, a junior at Woodland, and Maddie Phillips, a junior at Streator, were selected as their school's winners from their own in-school contests.
Dave Reed, of the Streatorland Historical Society, said he's excited to get youths involved in the sesquicentennial celebration.
"All the students who participated in their classrooms, not just the winners, are going to say to their kids 25 years down the road how they participated in the last celebration," Reed said.
Donner said the sesquicentennial postmark will be Streator's second of its kind. The post office created a special Pluto postmark in 2016 designed by Streator High School art teacher Monica Hladovcak, who also is Phillips' instructor.
"This is very special for the high school students involved," Donner said. "Pictorial postmarks are only made by the requests of postmasters for special events. Many towns don't have them made for years."
Donner said not only stamp collectors seek out the postmarks, but also people mailing family and class reunions.
"They're keepsakes," Donner said. "The student that has the pictorial postmark selected will be part of Streator's history."
'Glass Container Capital of the World'
Phillips drew five unique glass containers with "150 years" written in the middle of the center one.
She said her inspiration came from asking residents what they think of when they think of Streator? They made reference to the city's former title of "Glass Container Capital of the World."
"They always said glass," Phillips said. "So I looked up Owens and looked up old photos. I had to fact check a lot."
Phillips said she had to redo the design when she discovered one of her containers wasn't made in Streator.
When she heard her piece made it to the final two, she said she counted down the minutes until a winner was named.
"I spent so much time on it," she said. "My mom and I texted back and forth, and when she came home, she gave me a big hug and we jumped up and down. It was really nice."
Although Phillips wants to go into a medical career, she said art is a hobby she wants to always keep. She has been paid for her work before.
"I remember coloring pages in second grade, and thinking some day, I want to make my own lines."
Inspired by the architecture
Sibert said he was inspired by viewing many photographs of Streator. Students were encouraged to do research before beginning their pieces.
"I liked the landmarks," he said. "The library, the clock. I drew these, because to me they are the history of Streator. I've always liked the architecture."
Sibert, who's lived in Streator and Ransom, said he was hoping he would be picked.
"I was surprised, and now I'm excited," he said. "I told my parents and they're pretty excited about it."
Sibert said the experience has taught him a lot about the city's history.
He said he hopes to go to college to become an art teacher.
"I love art," he said. "I've been drawing since I was really little."