Thursday, July 18, 2013

Huntersville student wins art contest, meets Jane Seymour

Jessica Traugott, who just graduated from Hopewell High, was one of two high school students in the country to win the Creative Self-Expression Art Show.

Photo courtesy Rich Sampson
She traveled to Malibu, Calif., at the end of June to attend a recognition event and meet actress and artist Jane Seymour, who is the show's spokeswoman. Jessica also won $2,000 scholarship.

Her piece, "Unexpected," features a drainpipe near a brick wall that's surrounded by old leaves and a vibrant flower.

"I was inspired by the topic of decay, primarily in the form of rust," Jessica said in a release. "I wanted to explore the contrast between organic life and industrial erosion."

The painting was viewed in Seymour's personal art studio at her home in Malibu.

This spring, high school students around the country submitted pieces at their local The Great Frame Up stores. Their art was judged by a local panel of professionals, and finalists' work was sent for judging to Franchise Concepts, Inc., in St. Louis, Mo., where a panel, including Seymour, judged the two winners.

Jessica plans to attend The Art Center College of Design to study entertainment design, and she's considering a minor in illustration.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

YMCA teens connect with South African youth via Michelle Obama

A group of teens involved at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte connected virtually with other teens in South Africa recently. It all happened through a Google+ hangout orchestrated by Michelle Obama.

A Google+ hangout allows video conferencing between multiple groups. Because South Africa is such a young country, the hangout encouraged future cultural exchanges and inspired young people to be connected globally, said Candace Murray of YMCA's community development team.

Other YMCAs from around the country were also invited by the White House to participate, including New York City, Louisville, Ky., Washington, D.C., Hartford, Conn., Cleveland and Boston.

The teens from New York spoke on behalf of the American groups, and the Charlotte teens used Twitter and other social media to interact live as well.

"It really felt like we were almost sitting there with the teens in South Africa," Murray said in an email.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gaston Day, Providence literary mags win Tar Heel awards

 "Blutopia" cover.
Gaston Day and Providence High won overall Tar Heel awards for their literary magazines, "Blutopia" and "Roars and Whispers," respectively.

Tar Heel awards recognize high school journalism excellence in North Carolina, and are a part of the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association at UNC Chapel Hill.

 Gaston Day won five of eight overall awards for the magazine as well: fiction, art, cover design, photography and theme development.

Providence also won two: poetry and layout.

The awards were given in June at the N.C. Scholastic Media Institute, where about 350 high school students attended.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Teens mentor middle-schoolers in confidence-boosting camps

Two-dozen high school students interned these past few weeks for two programs that help kids deal with tough middle school social situations.

The programs, called Athena's Path (for girls) and Hero's Pursuit (for boys), were created by Michelle Icard, a local author, educator and social leadership strategist. They've been implemented in 30 schools across five states, reaching more than 10,000 students.

Athena's Path intern Elana Burack writes adjectives suggested by campers to describe a fellow camper, which would be used for a photograph.
Because it's based in Charlotte, week-long day camps were available this summer for the programs. The Athena's Path curriculum aims to empower girls to positively and confidently act in tough social situations (read: mean girls), while the curriculum for Hero's Pursuit zeros in on boys finding their strengths, developing leadership skills and using them in a positive way.

Middle school teachers in the area taught the camps. High school students volunteered their time to try to impact the younger students who attended the camps this June.

"It's rewarding to know I'm helping give them the tools to handle these sticky situations and give them the confidence to not worry so much about what other kids think about it," said Elana Burack, a rising senior at Providence Day. "If you have confidence, you have everything."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Blumey winner Eva Noblezada is Jimmy Award runner-up

Eva Noblezada was named a runner-up last night at the Jimmy Awards in New York City, which is the national equivalent of the Tony Awards for high school theater.

Sixty-two high school students from across the country competed, and Eva was among the top seven who were asked to perform for judges.

Students were judged on a solo performance as well as group-medley performances during the awards show.

Two winners were named (one boy and one girl), and the remaining five, including Eva, were named runners-up and were awarded $2,500.

Eva won a Blumey Award in Charlotte for her performance as Ariel in Northwest School of the Arts' "Footloose." That award was her ticket to the Jimmys.

I wrote about Eva in June, and she told me that getting to perform on a Broadway stage (which, coincidentally, was the one where she first saw a Broadway show), would be "surreal" and "a dream come true." 

She'll be a senior at Northwest this fall.

PHOTO by Annette Calud: Eva Noblezada performing as Maria in "West Side Story" last year.