Local Students Earn National Recognition for Outstanding Artwork

Local Students Earn National Recognition for Outstanding Artwork
Fifth grader Alexis Lucas is one of five Litchfield students to receive a $1,000 contribution to a NEST 529 College Savings account as part of the Annual Draw Your Dreams Scholarship Contest.

LITCHFIELD—Silver medals, gold keys, and thousands of dollars have been awarded to the talented art students in Litchfield. Art teacher Allison Varah proudly teaches K-12 students who continue to be recognized for their creativity.

Stated in a press release from Varah, five Litchfield students have found themselves the winner of $1,000 as part of a national competition! Open to anyone in Kindergarten through eighth grade, the Draw Your Dreams competition asks students to draw what they want to be when they grow up.

Second grader Aubri Corbin, daughter of Tony and Steph Corbin said she has been drawing since she was four and is proud of herself for not giving up.

“I drew myself as a vet because I love animals and because they’re so furry and cute. I was proud of myself it made me feel like I could do it, never give up, keep trying. I like sketching at home,” Corbin said.

Aubri Corbin

Varah added that “Thinking about what you want to be when you grow up is well worth our time. Visualizing and dreaming about the future helps students focus on how to get where they want to be and to try their best now.”

The Nebraska State Treasure, John Murante states “the Draw Your Dreams Scholarship Contest instills an important lesson in young scholars: if you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

The $1,000 goes into a NEST 529 College Savings account that can be used for education post high school. This is the ninth year of the competition which is advertised around the nation for any aspiring artist and future focused savers.

This National Competition is put on by First National Bank in Omaha and the winning entries are made into a calendar. Their submissions will be on display at the Nebraska State Capitol from September 23–27, 2019.

Litchfield students were:
2nd grade students: Aubri Corbin and Troy Mack Sekutera
3rd grade students: Hailey Zentz and Kinzlie McAuliff
5th grade student: Alexis Lucas

Allison Varah spoke to her students and shared their inspiring remarks with KCNI/KBBN:

Troy Mack Sekutera Son of Mariah Sekutera and Justin Mack: “I drew myself as an astronaut because I want to go into space because there are cool different planets. I like reading about space and about NASA.”

Hailey Zentz Daughter of James and Stacey Zentz: “I drew myself as a cowgirl because I like horses and I want to chase after cattle and I like being outdoors.” When she found out she won the contest she said, “I felt happy, I told my sisters that I won and I ran around the house.”

Kinzlie McAuliff Daughter of Steve and Danielle McAuliff: “I drew myself as a vet because I like animals.” She stated, “I saw other people win and I thought someday I’m going to win so I worked my hardest and it happened.”

Alexis Lucas Daughter of Colby and Jessica Blair: “I drew myself as a mechanic because when I was little I helped my dad in his shop and I realized I was really good at it. When I found out I was very excited and surprised, it showed me I was better at art than I thought I was.”

Dallas Rohde pictured with “Praying Mantis” sculpture, Silver Medal
Hailey Zentz
Kinzlie McAuliff
Kyle Betke pictured with “Scorpionotron” sculpture, Silver Medal
Troy Mack-Sekutera

In addition, high school art students Dallas Rohde and Kyle Betke would often chide and challenge each other in their three-dimensional art class, saying things like “it’s too bad all of my artwork has been better than all of yours” and “that might be the first work you’ve ever done that’s better than mine.” The competitive atmosphere has paid off as both students won Gold Keys, the highest honor at the state level. This honor then sent their independent sculptures to the national competition.

According to Varah, of the 3,800 entries submitted to the highly competitive Scholastic Competition only 34% earned a spot in the state show in Omaha. After being juried by multiple experts in the field, works are awarded either Honorable Mention, Silver Key, or Gold Key. The Gold Keys continue to the next level of national competition.

A new lineup of judges use a rubric to narrow down all 50 states to a few medalists. Only 31 Nebraska students earned a national medal and Kyle Betke and Dallas Rohde are two of them.

Since 1923, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity, and talent of our nation’s youth. The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have grown to be the nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition initiative for creative teens. Rohde and Betke have shown they have what it takes and have the Olympic size medals to prove it.

In 2019, 340,000 works of art and writing were submitted to the Scholastic Awards. Submissions are juried by luminaries in the visual and literary arts. Panelists look for works that best exemplify originality, technical skill, and emergence of a personal voice or vision. National Medalists are recognized in part at the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Congratulations Litchfield art students!