Van Gogh-ing to state: Valley High students win art contest

Published 10:20 am Thursday, April 11, 2024

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Students of Valley High School competed in a recycled art contest. On Monday, the judges named the winners of the contest. 

The recycled art contest, hosted by the Alabama PALS program, asked students to make any art piece they wanted as long as it was made completely out of recycled materials. VHS Media Specialist Ellen Emfinger said the school staff donated recyclable materials like cardboard boxes, plastic grocery bags and plasticware for students’ use. 

Eleventh graders Harley Gosdin and Garrett Burrows won first place with their robot sculpture which employed welding materials together. Freshman Madison Martin won second place for a papier-mache shark hovering above trash. Eleventh grader Mariana Escobar won third place for her white long-necked bird made of plastic spoons and forks. 

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Six other art projects won honorable mentions for their hard work as well. 

Gosdin, whose father is a welder, said the hardest part of the project was figuring out how to weld the thicker metals to the thin without burning through. His project partner, Burrows, is enrolled in the engineering program at Inspire Academy, the county’s career tech school.

Martin said the hardest part of her project was getting the shape of the fins right. She said the message of her project is about pollution in our oceans. 

Meanwhile, Escobar was inspired by the bird simply because she liked it. She said it wasn’t very hard to find recycled materials for her project, which is made primarily out of plastic spoons, forks and knives. 

The art contest was open to all students at the school; however, art teacher/Coach Brandon Carden also made it an assignment for his art students. 

Valley Arts Council President Suzie Britt, member Charlie Warner and Chambers County Schools Gifted Specialist Joy Yates worked together to judge the over 90 contest entries.

The top three projects will be picked up later this month and will be entered into the statewide Alabama PALS competition. The winner of the statewide competition will win a $50 prize. 

Alabama PALS program encourages green habits including picking up litter across the state and spreading awareness with the younger generation. The program has several projects designed to get high school students involved including the annual recycled art contest. 

Chambers County Commissioner Sam Bradford has led the initiative in the county by introducing the Adopt-A-Mile litter-pickup program. Last year, the county won the Alabama PALS Governor’s Award for participation for the second year in a row. Valley High School students also won first place in the poster project contest, which earned them $1,000. 

The ecology club at Valley High School has several other projects throughout the year. This semester, students are creating scratch rugs out of recycled T-shirts to donate to the cats at the Chattahoochee Humane Society. 

Last October, the ecology club donated Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins to the animals at the Wild Animal Safari down the road in Pine Mountain.