By Michael Buhler
What started out as a random inspiration while sitting in class turned into an award-winning effort for a Cheney Middle School.
Ashley Jackson, an eighth-grader at CMS, ended up drawing a dragon’s eye, which won first place at the Central Plains Middle School League art show and also finished second in the middle school division for Kansas Youth Art Month, which was held at the state Capitol in Topeka. Jackson’s sketch currently is on display at Citizens State Bank in Cheney.
“I am just thrilled to have her,” Michaeline Kohler, Jackson’s art teacher at CMS, said. “She’s been my student ever since she’s lived here – from elementary on I’ve had her in class. She’s a wonderful person. She’s such a nice artist. She prides herself in practicing. She knows if she practices, she’s going to be better. That’s very satisfying as a teacher.”
Jackson, who has been drawing “probably since (she) could hold a pencil,” got the inspiration for the drawing while sitting in class one day.
“I was just sitting in class one day and I had a picture of a dragon sketch, and I was like, ‘oh that’s cool – I’d really like to do a dragon’s eye, because I really like to draw eyes,” Jackson said. “The texture of the eye is just pretty interesting.”
Kohler believes the recognition reflects well not only on Jackson, but on the Cheney school district as a whole.
“It is a very nice honor,” Kohler said. “I think Cheney is fortunate. I think we have a very strong fine arts program, musically and artistically.”
Jackson, who still is undecided on her future in the art world, has been surprised by the attention her work has received.
“I’m in eighth grade, so all of the attention is kind of overwhelming,” Jackson said. “It’s new.”
Jackson’s drawing was not the only piece of art from Cheney to receive recognition at Kansas Youth Art Month.
Cheney High School sophomore Dottie Felton won a first-place award, a French painting easel and Youth Art Month (YAM) T-shirt, while CHS freshman Sarah Montano got an honorable mention for her work and also received a YAM T-shirt. Cheney seniors Jessica Voss and Jerica Tullis also had their art on display at the Capitol.
“I think all of those pieces of art went to the National Art Education Convention in Fort Worth,” Kohler said. “We were pretty thrilled.”
Youth Art Month is celebrated every March to emphasize the importance of art education programs in schools. This year, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback recognized Youth Art Month with an official proclamation, presented by Senator Marci Francisco from Lawrence at the celebration reception.