Gotcha! Photo Contest Winners 2012

June 12, 2012

Spirit of education, discovery and joy captured by teachers

With cameras in hand, teachers across Alberta caught ­teachable moments playing out in schools, activity centres and outdoors. ­Featured here are some of the many outstanding ­photographs ­submitted by teachers to the 18th annual ATA News GOTCHA! Photo Contest.

This year’s photo contest judges were ATA News staff:
­Jonathan Teghtmeyer, editor-in-chief;
Raymond Gariépy, managing editor; Yuet Chan, designer;
and Kim Dewar, photographer and business manager.

Given the high quality of the many photos submitted to this year’s contest, judges awarded six honourable mentions.

For the first time in the contest’s history, photos entered in the contest can be viewed at

1st Place

Under the lights

Photographer: Sean McKennitt, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School,
Spruce Grove

Judges’ comments: McKennit is no stranger to the GOTCHA! Photo Contest. A ­regular contributor, his photos in the past have taken second place and honourable ­mentions. This year, McKennitt took first place. Judges were unanimous in their ­decision. The photo of high school basketball player Bryce taking to the court was called “dramatic” by one judge, a comment that pretty much summed up the other judges’ observations. Without a doubt, McKennit has an eye for the theatrical and a knack for leaving unanswered the question of what has just taken place and what is yet to ­transpire. Well done, Sean!

2nd Place


Photographer: Robert Mitchelson, Radisson Park Elementary, Calgary

Judges’ comments: Mitchelson’s photo of Alyssa enjoying a school outing at ­Calgary’s Talisman Centre stood out for judges because of the pure joy expressed by the ­youngster—that, and her toothy grin. The crisp image set against the abstracted surface of the water creates an interesting tension. Alyssa’s genuine delight is captivating!

3rd Place

Spring Game

Photographer: Benjamin Stevens, Mistassiniy School, Wabasca

Judges’ comments: In his e-mail, Stevens describes what occurred during the school’s outdoor activity: “It was a warm day but we got a freak snow storm.” Anyone living on the prairies can attest to the split-second change from glorious spring day to ­blizzard, which is one reason why judges were drawn to the image of students engaging in an ­outdoor school activity despite the “freak snow storm.” Stevens’s ability to capture a spring day in Alberta where students’ resilience perseveres in the face of a maelstrom of blowing snow makes for an engaging photo.

Honourable Mention

What is it?

Photographer: Michelle Dickie, French immersion teacher, Varsity Acres School, Calgary

Judges’ comments: Whatever is eliciting the students’ reaction—be it terrifying, gross, absurd or farcical—doesn’t matter; what’s important is that teacher Michelle Dickie had her camera and was able to preserve the moment playing out at Telus Spark, Calgary.

Honourable Mention


Photographer: Holly Gerke, J. Percy Page High School, Edmonton

Judges’ comments: Players from S. Bruce Smith School, Edmonton, take a timeout during a basketball game at Parkview School, Edmonton. Coach Tim Reilly (back to the camera) briefs his players. Gerke’s photo reveals one of those moments when students’ attention is held by the teacher. The eclectic assemblage of colourful climbing wall hand grips adds an almost whimsical quality to a serious moment.

Honourable Mention

A box is never just a box

Photographer: Nancy Ingram, I.V. Macklin Public School, Grande Prairie

Judges’ comments: Ingram is a regular contributor to the photo contest. Her photo of kindergarten students, while posed, still ­manages to reveal the delight of potentially mischievous children ­having discovered that a box is more than what it at first appears to be. ­Students’ imaginations lead to creative play, which in turn leads to an ­honourable mention.

Honourable Mention

Snakes alive!

Photographer: Darryl Propp, principal, Bon Accord ­Community School, Bon ­Accord

Judges’ comments: Propp writes: “To celebrate Education Week, we host a Special Guest Day every year where we invite community leaders to the school to present different occupations. One of our parents has a number of pet snakes and brings them in every year. [This student] was quite excited to hold this snake.” Propp’s image records the young student’s pure joy and amazement at coming face-to-face with a squirming reptile. The unusual angle of the snake handler’s hand and wrist along with the snake’s curving body create intriguing angles.

Honourable Mention

Spring delights

Photographer: Jean Cobb, principal, West Park Elementary School, Red Deer

Judges’ comments: “The composition, angle and perspective are great,” commented one judge. Indeed, Cobb’s photo of students enjoying a spring day in April is a delight and full of promise for what lies ahead. The reds and pinks set against the blue prairie sky also add to the dynamics of the photograph.

Honourable Mention

Up close and personal

Photographer: Amy Banerd, Acme School, Acme

Judges’ comments: Banerd writes: “Brannon was having fun in the snow in our outdoor physical education program. He got a little too into the activity and did a face plant into the snow.” Good photos come from being in the heart of the action and connecting with the ­subject. In this case, both subject and photographer got in close and personal—B­rannon connecting with the snow-­covered ground and Banerd connecting with Brannon’s snowy face.