Skillman Foundation, Parade Company Announce Annual Float Design Winner

Fifth-grade student Jaiden Paynes-Hebron, a student at Amelia Earhart Elementary-Middle School in Detroit, is the grand prize winner of the 30th Annual Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest for America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner White.
Paynes-Hebron’s design, titled “The Class of Tomorrow,” highlights the artist’s vision of a classroom that not only serves as a place of learning, but also celebrates friendship, fun, and culture.
Photo courtesy of The Parade Company

The Skillman Foundation and The Parade Company today announced 5th grade student Jaiden Paynes-Hebron, a student at Amelia Earhart Elementary-Middle School in Detroit, as the grand prize winner of the 30th Annual Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest for America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Gardner White. Images are available HERE.

Paynes-Hebron’s design, titled “The Class of Tomorrow,” highlights the artists vision of a classroom that not only serves as a place of learning, but also celebrates friendship, fun, and culture. The float features students learning in a variety of ways and exploring a range of subject matter including science, math, music and art. It speaks to the importance of both individualized and collaborative learning. Brought to life by artists at The Parade Company, Paynes-Hebron and his family will ride on the impressive float on Thanksgiving morning.

“Kids today have experienced many different ways of learning. From classroom instruction to hands-on collaborations to computer applications; in school, out in the world, and within virtual worlds. Their experiences have been different and wider than that of previous generations. And so they are the most important consultants and designers of the future of school and learning. This year’s Skillman Foundation float design contest is one way to solicit and amplify student input,” said Angelique Power, president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation. “We are so proud to continue this tradition, showcasing the genius and the vision of Detroit youth on a national stage.”

“The Skillman Foundation float unveil is truly one of our favorite moment each year during parade season,” said Tony Michaels, president & CEO of The Parade Company. “It is a thrill to see this incredibly creative and talented student’s vision come to life. We look forward to “The Class of Tomorrow” making its debut on Woodward Avenue on Thanksgiving morning.

This year’s Skillman Foundation Float Contest theme, “My Dream Classroom,” encouraged students to use their imagination to illustrate and share their vision of a perfect classroom. Hundreds of submissions were received from students in grades 4 through 8 enrolled in Detroit Public Schools or Detroit Charter School Programs across the city.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the partnership between The Parade Company and The Skillman Foundation which inspires young artists by giving them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see their vision come to life as a parade float.

Five honorable mention winners were also selected, and their beautiful artwork will be displayed around the border of the float. The students include:

  • Charon Ewing, 5th grade, Hutchinson Elementary Middle School, “Art + Music Class”
  • Lizeth Jiminez, 5th grade, Cesar Chavez Academy Upper Elementary “Dream Class”
  • Christina Johnson, 7th grade, Spain Elementary, “Dream Classroom”
  • Jamilyn Jones, 5th grade, Spain Elementary, “Cat Class”
  • Vivica Toussaint, 5th grade, Bates Academy, “Astro Academy”

A voice for children since 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy that serves as a fierce champion of Detroit children. The Foundation strives to change the odds for Detroit kids by ensuring they have equitable opportunities to learn and to lead by strengthening Detroit’s K-12 education, afterschool, and college and career pathways systems.“Love on Woodward” has been announced as the theme of the 95th America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Gardner White.

Voted as America’s Number One Holiday Parade by the 2018 and 2019 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Gardner White takes place on Thursday, November 25. WDIV-Local 4’s live coverage begins at 6 a.m. with pre-parade coverage, followed by a parade pre-show beginning at 9 a.m. America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Gardner White will air live on WDIV-Local 4 from 10 a.m. – noon, including a one-hour syndicated national broadcast from 10 a.m. -11 a.m. reaching more than 185 television markets across the country.


News/Talk 760 WJR’s Paul W. Smith will host a pre-parade broadcast from 6 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Audacy’s 104.3 WOMC’s JoAnne Purtan and Jim Johnson will host live parade coverage from 10 a.m.- noon overlooking the parade route. For more information, visit

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