Natchez Arts Academy students excel in contest
Published 12:48 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014
NATCHEZ — Four Natchez-Adams School District students beat the odds through their creative works of art and were recognized for their artistic talents.
More than 120 students competed in a district-wide art contest as part of the “One Book, One Community” initiative, a project aimed at bringing together all schools and community members through one common goal.
Morgantown student Azaiah Ambrose won first place in the middle school category, as well as the overall first-place title across the district.
Email newsletter signup
“I felt awesome,” Ambrose said about his overall title win.
Morgantown students Omari Wilson and Octavius Wilkins placed second and third, respectively.
Nefretiria Watson, a senior at Natchez High School, took first place in the high school category. Members of ArtsNatchez Gallery judged the entries.
The contest continued the initiative that kicked off in May to have one book bring together the entire Natchez community.
The book, titled, “I Beat the Odds: from Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond,” by Michael Oher, chronicles the rise of the successful NFL player despite his rough childhood. Oher’s life story was told on the big screen in the Academy Award-winning 2009 film “The Blind Side.”
The “One Book, One Community” initiative seeks to promote literacy through reading and encourages students to stand out from home troubles or similar obstacles to Oher’s and achieve success, said NASD Deputy Superintendent Tanisha Smith, who organized the project locally.
Watson, the Natchez High first-place winner, lost her father when she was young. The final scene of her three-scene art creation featured a younger Watson prevailing over her father’s death with the help of a unique guardian angel, a cat.
“That’s what I could relate to the most,” Watson said.
Watson said she wants to continue her art talent at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco or Full Sail University in Florida next fall.
Middle school winners, Ambrose, Wilson and Wilkins, based their creations on prevailing over grade school and eventually attending college.
Ambrose’s artwork showed him with a cap and gown and featured him graduating. Wilson depicted himself struggling with a stack of six books that would eventually carry him into college.
Wilkins also sees college basketball in his future.
“That is where my full career will start so that I can get into the NBA,” he said.
Morgantown Arts Academy Art teacher Anne Marie Bailey said she encourages students in her classroom to stand out through their artwork.
The free expression of ideas in the classroom is one Bailey said instills valuable lessons students can use in any subject and class.
“I am able to incorporate critical thinking,” Bailey said. “In my class, there is no wrong or right answer.”
That concept is much different than the art classes Bailey grew up in, where students were required to draw the same object as everyone else and told their drawings were wrong.
“I can’t be a (contest) judge because I see how hard they work,” Bailey said.
For Ambrose, bragging rights of winning the contest will only last until the time of the next art contest.
“I will keep practicing and get better,” Ambrose said.
The winning pieces of art will be displayed at Braden Administrative Building through Thanksgiving.
Deputy Superintendent Smith said she was proud of all the students who participated in the contest.
“We have great artists in our schools,” Smith said. “And the art contest is one more way to help our students increase their achievements.”
The NASD will host a showing of “The Blind Side” at 6 p.m. Saturday on the Natchez Bluff to culminate the initiative’s activities.