DRAWING ATTENTION: Athens students win art contest 2 years in a row

J.R. Tidwell, The News Courier, Athens, Ala.
·2 min read

Mar. 3—A pair of elementary students in Athens have been showing off their artistic talents over the past two years.

Each year in March, the Alabama Art Education Association hosts a program called Youth Art Month.

According to the AAEA's website, Youth Art Month "emphasizes the value of art education for all children, encourages support for quality school art programs and promotes art material safety."

During Youth Art Month, a competition is held in which students in all grades across Alabama are invited to draw a flag design for the state which incorporates a theme. This year's theme was "Art Connects Us," while last year's prompt was "Taking a Journey With Art."

Four winners are selected during each year's competition — one each from the high school, middle school and elementary school levels, as well as an overall winner. And for the past two years, Athens City Schools students have taken home the top prize in the elementary school division of the contest.

Fourth-grader Selah Parsons from Athens Intermediate School won the 2020-2021 contest for her division, while then-third-grader Eli Henson of SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary took top honors in the division for 2019-2020.

Leah Pierce, who is Henson's art teacher, said the accolade is a "very big deal," because Parsons and Henson had their drawings selected over every other elementary school student throughout the state who entered the contest.

"Due to COVID-19 restrictions, (Eli) was unable to be recognized in person at the Alabama Art Education Association fall conference," Pierce said. "His awards were instead mailed to him."

Parsons may yet get the chance to be recognized at the conference, depending on whether or not the event is held this year. Her art teacher is Ashley Sams.

According to Pierce, the overall winner in the competition from each state has their design made into a flag that is displayed at the Youth Art Month Museum at the National Art Education Association Convention each March.

Per the AAEA website, category winners get $100 in art supplies, and their teachers receive $300 in art supplies for their classrooms.