Thursday, March 28, 2013

Contest: Win and hang your art in the U.S. Capitol

The Art Institute of Charlotte and Congressman Robert Pittenger have opened the 2013 Congressional Art Competition to high school students from the 9th Congressional District.

The first-place winner will get to hang their work in the U.S. Capitol building, receive a scholarship from Savannah College of Art & Design and fly to Washington, D.C., to attend a national reception and see their artwork displayed.

The 9th District includes parts of south Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Weddington, Pineville, Huntersville, Cornelius and Mooresville.

"The first-place artwork will be displayed in a frequently-traveled area of the Capitol, and I'll be excited to point it out to colleagues and guests," Pittenger said in a release.

Students can drop off artwork at either of Pittenger's district offices during normal business hours through April 5.

On Pittenger's Facebook page (, people can "like" contest entries between April 8 and 17. The five pieces with the most "likes" will be finalists, and Pittenger and his staff will choose a winner.

The other four finalists will have their artwork hung in Pittenger's district offices.

The Art Institute of Charlotte will offer the first- and second-place winners a full scholarship to the Summer Studio program, which features five days of creative workshops.

All participants in the contest are invited to a reception the Art Institute will host April 19.
For more information, rules and entry forms, visit or call 704-362-1060.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

High-schoolers to host variety show for shoes

A dozen high school students from the greater Charlotte area are organizing a variety show for May 4th to raise money for Samaritan's Feet.
The students, called Youth Ambassadors, are raising funds to travel to Burundi, East Africa, this summer.
Samaritan's Feet is a non-profit organization that works to give impoverished people, usually in third-world countries, shoes.
In Burundi, the teens will give shoes to needy children and help with a national youth conference sponsored by the Burundi government, said Tracey Stipp, the Youth Ambassador program organizer.
The evening of May 4, the high-schoolers will host a variety show -- dessert provided -- as well as a silent auction.
The show will be at the Samaritan's Feet location, which is 1900 Associates Lane in Charlotte.
Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.
This year's Charlotte Youth Ambassadors are:

Gabby Arguello, Mallard Creek
Davey Arroyo, Concord
Savannah Conrad, Metrolina Christian Academy
Jasminee Elston, Myers Park
Peyton Holmquist, Providence
Ann Catherine Lee, Butler
Montel Lyles, Cannon
Elizabeth Nelson, South Mecklenburg
Lauren Smith, ICS Lima, Peru
Christin Stipp, South Mecklenburg
Maddie Waters, South Mecklenburg
Eric Williams, Garinger

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Olympic High band members to compete at state level

Members of the Olympic High School Trojan Marching Band are gearing up to compete in the Carolina Indoor Performance Association championships April 6 and 7 at Western Carolina University.

The Winterguard and indoor percussion groups are competing, and James Smallwood, the band director, said in a release that Olympic has been the only Charlotte-Mecklenburg school since 2007 to have those two successful programs.

"Students learn leadership, team building and time management skills making them not only good students at OHS, but also increasing the likelihood for success in college and beyond," he wrote.

The groups have been practicing every Monday, and the public is invited to listen to them perform from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 25 at Olympic.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

UNCC freshman joins Citizen Schools executive team

Mary Espinosa.
Photo courtesy
This week, Mary Espinosa went to Washington, D.C., to join the executive team of Citizen Schools. 

On the team, Mary is helping lobby for the program and show the importance of its youth support programs.

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to lengthen the school day for students from low-income families.

Mary is a freshman at UNC Charlotte, and she credits Citizen Schools with showing her the way to college.
She moved to Charlotte from California when she was in the sixth grade, and a year later, joined the Citizen Schools program. In the eighth grade, she participated in Citizen Schools' mentoring program that took students on college tours and talked to them about the importance of higher education.

"Going to real colleges motivated me to stay in school and work toward becoming the first person in my family to go to college," Mary wrote in an essay on the Citizen Schools' website.

Now, she is majoring in social work and is considering law school. "I want to help kids who come from immigrant parents have access to college," she wrote.

She said she hopes students in Citizen Schools programs take advantage of it: "It's about moving forward and being able to educate yourself. Prove everyone wrong who said, 'You can't do it,' because you can."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2 teens to kick off 5K for Kicks for Kids

Photos courtesy of Emily Wakeman

Two Southlake Christian Academy students, Emily Wakeman and Ansley Rikard, have started Kicks for Kids in Charlotte, a non-profit that raises money to give children from low-income families athletic shoes.
To raise money, the two are holding a 5K run April 20 at Jetton Park in Cornelius.
Emily and Ansley want to promote health and fitness for children. Both have been active in soccer, cheerleading, running and swimming.
The shoes will go to students at Brookstone School, a non-profit K-6 school in west Charlotte that serves low-income families.
Race participants can expect to enjoy music, food, awards and door-prizes, according to a release from Emily.
"Ansley and I created this charity and event because we are both young athletes and know how valuable health and fitness is for the youth and the community," Emily said.

To register for the race, visit and click on the Events Calendar. To donate, volunteer or become a sponsor, visit or send an email to

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sixth-grader wins award for yummy sculpture

Maggie Kroening, 12, with her
award-winning sculpture.
Photo courtesy of Jane Kroening
Maggie Kroening, a sixth-grader at Alexander Graham Middle School, recently won first place in the Local Government Employee Exhibition for the 12-18 year-old category of sculptures. Her sculpture was called YUM. Maggie, 12, received a gift certificate for a class at the Light Factory and a $500 scholarship for additional classes of her choice.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

100 students to gather for Wake UP!

About 100 students from schools across the city and country will take part in the second annual Wake UP! Student Empowerment Summit this Saturday at the Charlotte Convention Center.

They'll be joined by CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison, Johnson C. Smith University President Ron Carter, State School Board Member John Tate and others.
Vance senior Mona Zahir wrote the following letter about her involvement with Wake UP!:

"For the past four years, I have been a proud Cougar at Vance High School. And as a senior reaching that time to walk across the stage at graduation, I’d been thinking a lot about how to make an everlasting impact at my school – to show my appreciation for all the nurturing it took to make me to be the scholar I am today. On Saturday, March 16th, I’ll have the chance to do make that impact – joining 100 of my fellow CMS students at the second annual Wake UP! Student Empowerment Summit. From Vance, Garinger, West Charlotte, Philip O. Berry, Harding, Lake Normal, Cochrane Collegiate, Walter G. Byers, and Quail Hollow, we’ll come together to talk about the future of education in Charlotte.

"Wake UP! gives students like us a voice in the movement for educational equality for all. Vance is not the dangerous place it’s often made out to be, but our schools are certainly in danger. Here in Charlotte, we see an opportunity gap at work – with zip code and income playing a central role in access to great educational options. At Saturday’s event, we’ll address this head on – to “wake up” our peers, teachers, principals, school board members, and other important community members. We want to show you that we care about our education and that we’re prepared to be a part of building something better. 

"I hope the event pushes educators and administrators to ask the hard questions about what our district needs and how to better meet the needs of schools and students not getting the supports they need. And I hope our leaders will begin to see the leaders in us – partners in building the future we’ll one day run.

"Wake UP! is what I want to give to Vance – a platform for students to have their voices heard and become leaders in the movement for educational equity. The battle is far from over but March 16 is surely a start."

Mona is an active member in student government, varsity softball and community service. She plans to study mass communications at UNC Chapel Hill in the fall.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Students paint T-shirts to help South Sudan

Thirteen area schools are participating in the initiative Any1Can Project, to help raise money and awareness for South Sudan.
This month, students are attending painting party sessions where they paint T-shirts that represent one of seven global issues.
Many of the schools have already held assemblies to discuss those topics, which include ending poverty, stopping hunger, providing clean water, standing up for peace, promoting education, being green and teaching tolerance.

Any1Can core leadership group. Photo courtesy of Cindy Ballaro.
Proceeds from painting party tickets, donations, sponsorships and sales of pre-printed Any1Can T-shirts will go toward building a school in South Sudan. The effort is a project of the nonprofit Mothering Across Continents.
The T-shirts will be exhibited in Taylor Hall Gym at Central Piedmont Community College's main campus from April 13 to 19.

A student paints a T-shirt for the Any1Can Project. Photo courtesy of Cindy Ballaro.
The following schools are participating:

Rocky River High School
Randolph Middle School
Northwest School of the Arts
Community School of Davidson
Independence High School
East Mecklenburg High School
Patton High School
Salisbury High School
Knox Middle School
Lake Norman High School
West Charlotte High School
Hough High School
West Mecklenburg High School

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Catching up on Carly Williams

Carly Williams, who was featured in Young Achievers last year as an aspiring broadcast journalist, was recently elected president of the Southern Interscholastic Press Association.
The Southern Interscholastic Press Association is based at the University of South Carolina and is a not-for-profit organization that encourages middle and high school students from the Southeast to use scholastic journalism.
Carly is now a junior at Nations Ford High School. She also won first-runner up in SIPA's conference last week for its on-site anchor competition.
Carly has previously filmed segments for "Teen Kid News," a weekly show that airs nationally and was founded by Albert Primo, who created "Eyewitness News" for adults.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Teen Tech week runs March 10-16

Creating apps, cracking codes, whipping up GIFs, XBox gaming: Check in and check out all kinds of stuff as the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library does Teen Tech Week March 10-16. Libraries and schools across the country join in the year's theme: "Check In @ your Library.” It's aimed at showing off the technology available, from online homework help to e-books and databases. Teen Tech week offers its first workshop at 3 p.m. March 11 at Independence Regional Library, where kids 12-18 can explore 3-D printing, electronics theory with Hackerspace, stop-motion animation, computer programming and more. Other workshops will range from science and art applications of digital technologies to programs about career fields. For more info, go to and, call 704-416-4660 or email The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is also on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.