JUNEAU (AP) -- State officials are looking for help from Alaska students to name two new Alaska Marine Highway ferries.
An essay contest for students in second through sixth grade will be used to name the two newest Alaska Marine Highway System ferries.
By Alaska statute, ferries must be named after Alaska glaciers.
The contest asks students to write a 250-word essay about why they picked the name they did. Submissions will be judged on content, originality, composition, writing skills, spelling and grammar.
The new names will be used for a Metlakatla-to-Ketchikan ferry, scheduled to come on line in 2003, and a Sitka-to-Juneau fast ferry, scheduled to start service in 2004.
A Department of Education panel that includes a geographer, language arts specialist and a historian will pick the top 10 essays. Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, Speaker of the House Brian Porter, R-Anchorage, and Senate President Rick Halford, R-Chugiak, will chose the final two names.
The ferry Kennicott was named the same way, Ulmer said.
''It gives (students) an opportunity to learn about Alaska geography and history, she said. ''It's a hands-on learning experience which promotes young people knowing about they state they live in, plus the honor of getting a ferry ride and having their essay displayed on the ferry.''
The winners and their parents will win a six-day cruise on a state ferry. The students' teachers also will win a six-day state ferry cruise.
The top 10 essay writers will get a three-day ferry pass for themselves and their parents.
Eleven Alaska glacier names already have been used on state ferries but students have 735 other glaciers to choose from, according to contest rules.
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