CENTREVILLE — Max Jones is a sixth grade student at Centreville Middle School. He’s also an outstanding artist, winning second place in a statewide art contest with an incredible work titled, “We’re Better Together.”

The theme for this statewide art competition was “The Time for Inclusion is NOW!”

The theme was chosen in recognition of the ways in which we can all have a greater appreciation for inclusion, as a way of life in our schools, and in our communities during National Inclusive Schools Week.

Max’s artwork features people with varying disabilities of different genders and ethnicities, carefully detailed and colored with the message of “Together” drawn within the trees. It’s a powerful message from a very talented and humble young artist, said Michael Bell, supervisor of visual and performing arts at Queen Anne’s County Public Schools.

Max’s mother Erica Jones said she has two very artistic kids in the house, and that Max and his older sister are always competing against one another with contests they enter. “I think they (the judges) liked his creativity,” said Jones. “Max is proud of his artwork, but humble about it.”

Centreville Middle School Principal Krystal Chambers said, “Max is a bright young artist. At age 11, Max utilizes his artistic gifts and creativity to truly demonstrate the meaning of inclusion in his artwork. His most recent award-winning drawing demonstrates that all students are valued members of the school community. Max’s heart-warming drawing has brought a deeper awareness and acceptance of students with disabilities. I couldn’t be prouder of Max and his inspiring artwork. Well-done!”

Joeleen Smith, supervisor of special education, said, “I was so excited for Max, and to see that our students at all levels and abilities understand the value of all people, and the importance of inclusion.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Andrea Kane also shared her excitement with a heartfelt, “Outstanding! Congratulations, Max!”

The art contest was open to elementary and middle school students across Maryland to kick off a virtual week of advocacy during Developmental Disabilities Day at the Legislature. Artwork selected for awards was based on how artists portrayed inclusion and incorporated creativity on their theme. Governor Larry Hogan, state legislators, and fellow advocates from all corners of the state came together throughout this inspirational day that highlighted the award-winning student artists.

Sharon Dols, director of operations and Strategic Partnerships at The Arc Maryland, shared, “These presentations enhance positive attitudes, diversity, and break down stereotypes of people with disabilities.”

“All of us have had an unusual vantage point for understanding an even broader meaning of inclusion this year, and how important it is to develop and maintain connections with one another,” Bell said.

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