CENTREVILLE — On Friday, Jan. 14, Queen Anne’s County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia Saelens received exciting news that Ryleigh Lynch, a second grader at Centreville Elementary, earned statewide art honors. Her artwork was selected for the annual Maryland Art Education Association Fall/Winter BWI Student Exhibit.

The theme for this year’s show is “Art Connects Us,” and Ryleigh’s artwork will be on display at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, along with just 23 other selected artworks from students across the state of Maryland. Her work is one of only five elementary artworks chosen.

Saelens said she wanted to make the moment extra special for Ryleigh, so she surprised her by presenting her with a special statewide award certificate as she was cheered on by her classmates, along with QACPS Communications Officer Lanette Power-Walters; Supervisor of Fine Arts Michael Bell; Principal Theresa Farnell; second grade teacher (and 2008-2009 Teacher of the Year) Karey Anne Coppage; and her art teacher Lucia Calloway.

“I think they really liked the texture,” Calloway said. “They only picked five elementary works in the state … so that blows me away.”

As Saelens presented Ryleigh with her award certificate, she complimented her on being “quite the artist” and asked Ryleigh to tell her a little bit about what she did in the artwork, how she created the textures, and how she created “that starburst in the corner, which is awesome!”

Ryleigh said, “It was Halloween and I wanted to make it like that season. I also liked creating movement. I like going on the trampoline, so I wanted to create the feeling you were on a trampoline. For the starburst, I used a square and rubbing sheets to create it.”

Calloway said Ryleigh is the youngest artist selected out of the 24 winning artists across the state and this particular piece came from a study of movement and the art of artist Edgar Degas and his dancing ballerinas and racing horses.

Coppage got all the students in Ryleigh’s second grade class to share in the excitement, congratulating Ryleigh on her work being in the airport for everyone to see.

“This won’t just be people from Maryland,” Saelens told Ryleigh, “but people from all over the world who will get to see your artwork!”

Bell added, “You’re also the only student in Queen Anne’s County that earned this honor.”

He offered congratulations to Ryleigh and to her art teacher for encouraging the students’ participation in the statewide exhibition.

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