CHURCH HILL — On Friday, Dec. 17, Queen Anne’s County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patricia Saelens made a special visit to Church Hill Elementary School to hand deliver a special art award to a talented third grade artist, Kinsley Becker.

Kinsley had no idea why she was being called down to the main office, but she was so excited once she arrived to find her mother and father, her younger brother, Principal Susan Walbert, and her art teacher Cassie Hosler all there to celebrate her winning the superintendent’s inaugural Holiday Greeting Card Art Contest. She also received some very special gifts and inspiring words from Saelens

The contest was created by Saelens as a way to recognize young artists in Queen Anne’s County and give their artwork statewide exposure. It was shared out by Fine Arts supervisor Michael Bell as a voluntary challenge for all elementary art teachers in the district.

“The contest rules were simple,” Bell said. “Create a work of art that best depicts a ‘Queen Anne’s County winter’ using any materials. I loved Dr. Saelens’ idea behind this, and thought it would be a fun side project that elementary school-aged kids would be excited about heading into the holidays.”

Once the entries were submitted — 44 total, from five participating art teachers — they were laid out anonymously for the superintendent to look through and try to choose just one.

Saelens said that was the hardest part because “the entries were all so good, and the students are all so talented.” Saelens also said the winner of the contest gets their artwork printed on her district’s holiday greeting card that is shared across the entire state.

“This card goes out to all 24 Maryland Superintendents, to the Maryland State Superintendent at the Maryland State Department of Education, and to every community organization, from the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners to our local libraries, to the Department of Emergency Services, the Sheriff’s Department … It really does go out to our whole community, which is really nice,” Saelens said.

In addition to having a stack of printed greeting cards with Kinsley’s artwork on it for her and her family, Saelens also had her original artwork framed and presented this to Kinsley.

“You are quite an artist,” Saelens said to Kinsley. “Thank you so much for participating and thank you so much for being our winner and giving me the best Christmas card out of all the superintendents in the state of Maryland.”

This is a wonderful holiday tradition that will become an annual contest for many years to come, Bell said.

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