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RLMS students showcase talent in the arts

NATCHEZ — Students at Robert Lewis Middle School recently put their creative talents up for critique.

Art teacher Victoria Holmes said the children displayed their work at a Parent Teacher Student Association meeting to showcase students’ talents.

“We had a silent auction, but instead of money, they used their bids to rank the artwork,” Holmes said. “I think the competition gave (students) a sense of accomplishment that they would have not otherwise been exposed to.”

First place winner Jalen Blackwell, 12, said he did feel the sense of accomplishment.

“I feel something new, something I’ve never felt before — I feel like I’ve become a young man,” Blackwell said. “It feels like I’m distinct from the other people I know.”

While Blackwell wants to play football when he gets older, he said participating in art projects would help him.

“It teaches me patience,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell said he usually paints landscapes, but for the competition he sketched a freestyle rendition of rapper Lil’ Wayne. Blackwell said he drew the rapper because he likes Lil’ Wayne’s music.

This competition has helped Blackwell become a better student, Holmes said.

“I see Jalen absolutely changing because of this,” she said. “He has learned a valuable lesson by doing this.”

Tied for second place were Tanesha Knight, Snasia Saucier and Lanecia White.

Knight, 13, made a mask of her face using red clay from Mexico.

“Mrs. Holmes said I don’t (like getting dirty), but I like getting my hands dirty sometimes,” she said. “So I enjoyed it.”

Saucier, 14, painted “Fire Island.” Saucier said she had been painting for three years.

“It looked fun,” she said. “I saw my cousin doing it and I decided to try it and I liked it.”

Because she only started painting this year, White, 14, said she didn’t expect to come in second.

“I wanted to learn a new technique, and Mrs. Holmes taught me how to mix colors,” White said. “It’s fun, and I’m happy I won.”

Third place went to Varnecia Phipps and Miya Biggins.

Honorable mention winners were Austin Ambrose, Roger Dobbins, Matthew Smith and Brittany Smith.

Holmes said art is important because it gives students skills for life, which will help them in any job.

“It teaches them to be more productive citizens, which is part of the mission,” she said. “It teaches them about problem solving, creative flair and many other qualities.”

Assistant teacher Leonard Jackson said because the students’ artwork was displayed in the cafeteria, it has helped improve their social skills.

“It gave them an opportunity to broadcast their talents,” Jackson said. “It helped boost their confidence.”

Along with receiving certificates of achievement, first and second place winners received an additional prize — $25 and $15 respectively.


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