$6,000 Awarded to Litchfield Art Students in National Competition

$6,000 Awarded to Litchfield Art Students in National Competition
(L-R) Kaylee Rohde, Caydence Feldman, Gracie Ritchie, Addie Boyles, Gracie Reitz, Katherine Paitz, Litchfield Art Teacher Allison Varah

LITCHFIELD—Six Litchfield students have been announced as winners of a national art competition in which only 12 winners are selected. Students are encouraged to submit drawings of what they dream they will be when they grow up and the young students of Litchfield are dreaming big dreams.

First National Bank of Omaha and Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg hosted the seventh annual “Draw Your Dreams” contest this past spring, with the winning drawings to be displayed in a calendar. The drawing contest was open to children in kindergarten through eighth grade and each winner receives a $1,000 contribution to a Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) 529 College Savings Plan account.

When asked about what this recognition means for the school, Litchfield Principal Matt Drew said it means a lot to have art teacher Allison Varah’s dedication to the art program.

“Mrs. Varah puts in the time and pushes our students and they’re very creative. One of the things this project does is make them think about their future so it helps motivate them in other classes,” Drew said. “And then to have six kids get $1,000 for each of our students so once they graduate Litchfield they can use that money toward their college is a great thing and we’re happy that she pushes our students the way she does.”

Students who won the “Draw Your Dreams” competition range from 1st to 7th grade and include Addie Boyles -1st; Caydence Feldman – 4th; Gracie Reitz – 4th; Gracie Ritchie – 4th; Katherine Paitz – 7th; and Kaylee Rohde – 7th.

Kaylee wants to be an artist and loves to be creative. Caydence enjoys taking pictures of nature and dreams of becoming a photographer. Gracie Ritchie likes to do woodworking and drew herself as a carpenter. First grader Addie Boyles loves baking chocolate cakes and Gracie Reitz enjoys baking cupcakes; both drew themselves as bakers.

Seventh grade student Katherine Paitz does not quite know what she wants to do in the future, but is moved by music. She drew herself as a singer and loves singing, playing piano, and playing the trumpet.

“You just get to draw anything you want,” Kaylee Rohde said about becoming an artist.

Gracie Ritchie wants to be a carpenter, “I built a birdhouse with my grandpa once. I like to do woodwork and stuff.”

Gracie Reitz also has special memories with a grandparent who has influenced some of her interests. “I like to bake cupcakes. I bake with my grandma,” Reitz said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the girls and their parents expressed excitement for the recognition of their artwork and the start of a college fund.

“I was really excited just to get some money into a college fund,” seventh grader Katherine Paitz said.

“It feels good. It feels that I can do what I want,” fourth grader Caydence Feldman said.

Kaylee Rohde said, “I was surprised and glad.”

“We have a great teacher,” one student said, adding that every now and then they get to have art parties!

“It feels really good to finally have one of my pictures in a calendar so I’m really excited,” fourth grader Gracie Reitz said.

Fourth grader Gracie Ritchie also won the “Draw Your Dreams” contest two years ago.

Parent Heather Paitz now can say that two of her daughters have won the contest and the family is off to a good start when it comes to saving for college.

“[We’re] excited. My younger daughter won it two or three years ago, Ava, and she always teased her sister that she already had $1,000 saved up for college and now, she doesn’t have bragging rights any more. Her sister can say she has it too!” Heather Paitz said.

This marks the second recognition for Litchfield art students in the last few months. Rilee Howard’s artwork won the second place award for a state competition in which her artwork warranted a visit from Congressman Adrian Smith. Howard’s photograph “Details” was recognized this spring and will be displayed in Smith’s Washington D.C. office. (Click here to view the May 3 story.)

“We’re really fortunate to have Mrs. Varah as our teacher because she really gets the kids involved and sends artwork to lots of different competitions and our kids have really gotten a lot of recognition because of it,” Heather Paitz said.

“The ‘Draw Your Dreams’ scholarship contest is a fun way to encourage young artists to dream about their future careers and set important goals,” said Nebraska Treasurer Stenberg. “The contest provides a creative outlet to inspire big dreams and helps families across the country learn more about how to finance higher education through our excellent NEST College Savings Plan. The contest provides a jump start to college savings for 12 lucky winners.”