William James Middle School's Kelsey Fallin looked stunned when she heard her name called in the assembly announcing the winning entry in a school wide art contest on Tuesday. Her design will be transferred from paper to a statue of a soaring eagle.
The project is part of Georgia Southern University's Betty Foy Sanders Department of Fine Arts and its Eagle Nation in Education program.
"The goal is to get the arts beyond the academy and out into the world as a whole," explained Dr. Curtis Ricker, dean of GSU's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. "The value and cultivation and continuation of arts in public schools is extremely important in the culture of America."
More than 400 Bulloch County students, including 70 from William James, submitted designs for the statue that will sit outside William James. The response was wonderful to art teacher Autumn Horton, a graduate of GSU's art department.
"I told my students a zillion times, probably every day, how cool this was," she admitted. "I told them this was something Ms. Horton wishes she could enter herself."
Eagle Nation in Education is a spinoff of the art department's Eagle Nation on Parade. In it, artists submit their themed designs for the statue. Once completed, businesses or individuals bid on the statues.
GSU also recognized William James seventh graders Harlie Carter and Danielle Arnette, the third and first runners-up in the middle school division. They received Eagle Nation in Education award ribbons and framed renderings of their designs.
Over the next few months, Fallin will work with Janet Suarez, an MFA candidate in the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art, to create her design on the six-foot-tall fiberglass eagle, which will be unveiled at the University's ArtsFest on April 6. Fallin and Suarez will be given a $100 stipend to purchase art supplies for the project. The eagle sculpture, valued at $10,000, will be donated to the school.
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