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Dekaney Senior Takes Top Spot in Spring ISD’s 2018 Holiday Card Contest

HOUSTON - Dec. 12, 2018 - During their Dec. 11 meeting, members of the Spring ISD Board of Trustees took a moment to wish those in attendance – together with all district staff and students – a happy holiday season, and the trustees also took the occasion to honor the top three submissions in the Superintendent’s Holiday Card Contest, an annual fine arts event that draws submissions from students across the district.

This year’s contest was open to all secondary art students. The top three winners for 2018, listed together with their campus and art teacher, are as follows:

  • First Place: Melissa Gonzalez
    Grade: 12th
    School: Dekaney High School
    Teacher: Desmond Rodney
  • Second Place: An Nguyen
    Grade: 11th
    School: Spring High School
    Teacher: Adrian Macris
  • Third Place: Nazly Mendoza
    Grade 12th
    School: Carl Wunsche Sr. High School
    Teacher: Lada Koptelova

Spring ISD Director of Performing and Visual Arts Dr. Joe Clark praised the “absolutely outstanding job” done by students across the district who participated in this year’s contest. The three students recognized at the board meeting each received a personalized gift bag featuring their winning artwork and filled with a fitting prize – a collection of high-quality art supplies to inspire their creativity.

“That’s one of the things we love to do,” Clark said of the prize bags. “They get really great art supplies in there that they can use right back in the classroom.”

This year’s winning card design – by Dekaney senior Melissa Gonzalez – will become Spring ISD’s official holiday card for the year, mailed out from the superintendent’s office to a group that includes senior administrators, community leaders, local business partners and others whose work and contributions help support the district in its mission.

Gonzalez said that, at first, she was uncertain how to approach the project, but decided to draw on her longtime love of snow globes and her signature use of pastels.

“All my artwork has had a similar color palette, with the pinks and everything,” Gonzalez said, “and I think that’s part of what made it stand out. I don’t usually see a lot of pinks incorporated into Christmas cards.”

She thanked her art teacher at Dekaney, Desmond Rodney, for his constructive criticism and feedback, as well as guidance on the more unfamiliar aspects of the design process – like the card’s lettering.

“Mr. Rodney does some amazing work with the students at Dekaney,” said Spring ISD Visual Arts Coordinator Amanda Byers, who helped oversee the submissions process, which this year involved secondary art teachers each selecting two student pieces to enter the final round of judging. “We really enjoy sponsoring the holiday card contest each fall, and we’re excited to celebrate with Melissa and the other top-ranking student artists.”

Gonzalez’s parents accompanied her to the board meeting to cheer her on and help celebrate the award.

“We’re really proud of her,” said her father, Javier Gonzalez, who said that since his daughter started working more seriously on her art during her sophomore year, he and her mother have gotten used to having colorful works-in-progress around the house.

For her part, Gonzalez said that it was her experience preparing a piece for the Texas Art Education Association’s annual Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) during her sophomore year that really awakened her interest in art.

“I started getting serious about art while preparing for VASE that year,” Gonzalez said after the spotlight presentation in the boardroom. “From there, I just got really passionate about it. And it was something that I did second nature, so it felt like it was a calling, you know?”

Gonzalez said she’d like to continue with art after she graduates. She would love to become an entrepreneur artist selling her own creations. Like many artists – both new and experienced – she admitted to some self-doubt when assessing her own work, but said that taking first place in the holiday card contest had definitely been a confidence booster.

“It was surreal,” she said of learning that her piece had been selected. “I was like, ‘Really?’ I couldn’t believe it at first. This is the first time I’ve ever won something for my art, so it’s exciting.”

In addition to having their artwork shown during the Spring ISD Board of Trustees December meeting, the top three winners’ pieces will also be on display in the lobby at next week’s districtwide Performing and Visual Arts Collaborative Performance on Monday and Tuesday evening at Spring Baptist Church. That event is free and open to the public.