A group of fourth-graders at Prince Elementary School were asked last week to photograph their "hopes" for America.

Thirty-two students participated Feb. 8 in the "Pictures of Hope" project with award-winning photojournalist Linda Solomon.

Solomon, a Tucsonan, founded the "Pictures of Hope" project four years ago to teach children how to express their feelings through photography.

At Prince, Solomon taught the students picture-taking basics, such as taking into account foregrounds and backgrounds, and showed the fourth-graders some of her own work.

The students were most impressed with Solomon's photographs of celebrities - she's recognized for her celebrity portraiture.

One of the students asked her if she was the "paparazzi."

"I take pictures of celebrities, but I'm not the paparazzi," she replied.

After Solomon covered the fundamentals of photography, she presented each of the students with a disposable camera and an assignment.

"You have to tell a story with your camera," she told them. "The story you're going to tell is everything you hope for America."

Cameras were returned Friday and on Tuesday a panel of judges selected one image per child to be transformed into greeting cards.

All students will have greeting cards featuring one of their images, their name and their age.

The cards will be sold at a later date at Prince, 125 E. Prince Road, and Lexus of Tucson's two dealerships, which sponsored the project. All proceeds from card sales will go to the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund.

A reception for the children will be held in late March or early April, Solomon said.

The students were so eager to photograph "hope" that they found images on the first day of jewelry, hand-holding and their classmates flashing peace signs.

And their hopes had substance.

Among other things, the students envision a nation without bullying, violence, litter, homelessness, animal cruelty or drugs.

They yearn for a country filled with kindness, friendship, education, forgiveness and families that get to be together.

Jose Casas Estudillo's "hopes" were characterized by careful reason: He wants Americans to be fiscally responsible.

"People should save money so they can provide for their families and pay their bills," he said.

Jose, 10, and the other students who participated in the project are involved in Prince's Project Achieve after-school program, where they receive tutoring and other enrichment activities.

"They are diverse and unique students who will really get a lot out of this," Prince assistant principal Tanya Wall said.

She added: "My hope is that they see that their voice counts."

On StarNet: View more photos from this event online at azstarnet.com/gallery

Contact reporter Andrea Rivera at arivera@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.