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Tina Telio: Making a difference with a photo

Student wins top award in PTA’s Reflections photo competition

Posted: October 20, 2008 8:44 p.m.
Updated: December 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.

"I Love to Recycle" won a national Award of Excellence in the Reflections arts competition held each year by the PTA. Tina Telio was 8 when she took the photo.

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A trip to a Saugus recycling center with her mom last fall inspired a local elementary school student to take a picture that eventually won top honors in a national Parent-Teacher Association-sponsored photo competition.

When she saw a stack of clear plastic bags full of recyclable plastic water and soda bottles, "It was all different colors and looked like an explosion," said Santina Telio, then a third-grader in Ms. Robinson's class at Mountainview Elementary in Saugus.

"I really like recycling and that's what I do all the time," said Tina, as she's known to her family and friends, "and that's why I wanted to take a picture of it." Not surprisingly, she titled her photo "I Love to Recycle."

Ms. Robinson submitted Tina's photo with others taken by her students in the PTA's Reflections arts recognition and achievement program competition for the 2007-08 school year.

The competition's theme was "I can make a difference by ... " and "I Love to Recycle" earned the Award of Excellence in the Intermediate Division (grades 3-5) at Mountainview.

The photo then went on to win divisional Awards of Excellence at the district, council and state levels.

At the final national Reflections competition, "I Love to Recycle" was one of two entries chosen to receive the top Award of Excellence in Tina's division.

"Not bad for an 8-year-old - and I swear I had nothing to do with it," beamed her father, Yoti Telio, who owns Santa Clarita Photographic Studios in Valencia. "I had no idea until her photo won at Mountainview."

"I was amazed and excited, because that was my first time, and I thought it was awesome and cool," Tina said, adding that it inspired her to keep taking pictures.

Telio credited Tina's teacher with inspiring his daughter. "Ms. Robinson encouraged each kid in her class to enter the contest on a school level first, and do the very best they can," he said.

"As a result of her encouragement, Santina went all the way to the nationals and won. This teacher taught my daughter so much that she made her a ‘thank-you' card telling her she is her hero for helping her through third grade."

To take her award-winning picture, Tina used a Sony Alpha 100 digital single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera handed down to her by her mother, Fern Telio, also a photographer and co-owner of the family business.

Tina shoots photos because she likes to, not because her parents run the professional studio voted No. 1 in the Santa Clarita Valley by readers of The Signal. "My favorite thing to take pictures of is nature -- flowers, animals, the forest," she said.

She wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up, she added.

"I love sea animals - they're my favorite kind of animals. You take pictures of sea animals and you study and learn more. I know that a starfish can grow its arms back after they get bitten off."

This school year, the Reflections photo competition is themed "Wow!" and Tina already knows she will enter a photo she took of a pod of whales in August, just after her ninth birthday, when she and her parents were on a visit to Alaska. Whales definitely have a large "Wow!" factor, she said.

"We were on a tour taking pictures of glaciers and all the animals," she said. "I liked seeing the whales and the seals. And I also got to hear the whales."

What did Tina think they were saying to each other?

"Follow me!" she laughed.

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