Sixth grade artists win at the local and district level

Photo by Robert Williams
Club members met with the students of the Lions International Peace Poster contest at Frazee Elementary School Thursday, Jan. 19, to award prizes and congratulations to the local sixth grade winners. Front row L-R: Nolyn Prellwitz, Grace Hamm, Ella Behrmann, Zoey St. Germain. Back row: Elaine Palmer – Vergas Lions, Karlene Negen – Frazee Lions, representing Four Corners Lions, Deb Pergande – Frazee Lions and Doug Schwarzrock – Wolf Lake Lions.

By Robert Williams

Editor

Four sixth grade emerging artists from Frazee-Vergas Elementary School were awarded by four area Lions Clubs for their work in the Lions International Peace Poster competition.

For over three decades, Lions Clubs around the globe have been sponsoring the art contest in schools and youth groups. More than four million young people from 100 countries worldwide have taken part in the contest.

Each year, the Lions contest has a theme and this year’s was ‘Lead with Compassion.’

“They work a month in class on these things and it’s a graded assignment,” said Vergas Lions member Elaine Palmer. “That’s why we get such great participation, which is wonderful, because every club doesn’t get that.”

The elementary art program uses the contest as part of curriculum, headed up by Linda Beilke.

“It is a school project that Linda orchestrates,” said Frazee Lions member Karlene Negen. “They start out at the local level and all four of them won at the district level.”

Beilke helps her students formulate a way to both interpret and express the project’s theme.

“We worked very hard to clarify and understand what the theme ‘Leading with Compassion’ looks like, doesn’t look like and how to draw those to help others learn about compassionate leadership,” said Beilke. “We then had to do a lot of brainstorming and planning to be able to create our posters without including words, as this is an international contest and the winners represent many different countries and languages. We spent time looking at posters that had won in previous years and discussed what was good about them and how we could use similar compositions, and principles of design while adding our own ideas and personality. Art has many symbolisms such as hearts, doves, hands and so that was also a rich source of ideas that many tried to combine in unique ways.”

For Lions organizers, Beilke’s work is crucial to making the project successful on a local level and giving the artwork of kids exposure to bigger audiences.

“Linda always says focus on the students; don’t focus on me, but she is the heart line of this project,” said Negen.

“We couldn’t do it without her,” said Palmer. “I can remember years back when all we had was one poster from the whole school.”

Beilke explained how the project is used in her classes.

“The elementary art curriculum is based on Minnesota state art standards and this project covers and reinforces several different areas within this one project,” she said. “It is a required project for my class and is part of their first trimester grade in addition to getting a grade for their brainstorming list and planning sheet. Students are not required to enter the contest, however are encouraged to do so, as it is a great program and students who win get recognition for their hard work and cash prizes. We look at a slideshow of posters and how posters are meant to send a clear message that can be understood by many age levels. We then discuss what each student wants their poster to communicate.”

Beilke has quite a job on her hands in doing so, given the number of entries.

“I believe we had about 70 posters that were entered this year,” Beilkesaid.

The artwork is sent to the four area Lions Clubs in Frazee, Vergas, Wolf Lake and Four Corners for judging. Winners are awarded monetary prizes with the first place winner having his or her artwork sent on to a multiple district level in St. Cloud.

Each poster is judged on originality, artistic merit, and expression of the theme. Entries advance through several judging levels: local, district, multiple district, and international. An overall multiple district winner is then selected, and submitted for the international judging stage.

At the international level, judges from the art, peace, youth, education, and media communities select one grand prize winner and 23 merit award winners.

This year’s winner was sixth grader Nolyn Prellwitz, who included a quote about his work.

“Lead with Compassion creates better communication with people,” Prellwitz said. “Leaders you can trust makes the world valuable and significant.”

Beilke explained the detailed process she uses to help students take a difficult subject like compassion and turn it into art.

“The process of taking an idea to a final project is working on composition first then adding images little at a time,” she said. “During their art class I walk around, ask students about their art and they also ask how to communicate their ideas and how to draw images. Together the complete work begins to form. Each project is very unique and students are excited about what they have accomplished.”

Finishing in the next three spots were Grace Hamm, Ella Behrmann and Zoey St. Germain

Negen highlighted another quote, this from third place winner Ella Berhmann.

“Compassion is the foundation of peace,” she said. “When we care about others, the world becomes a better place. We each carry our own piece to the puzzle.”

“These students are serving our world,” said Negen. “What these children are thinking, wow, these statements that they had just tugged at my heart.”

Promoting the arts, and even more so service, is what the Lion’s contest is about.

“Arts and service because the Lions motto is we serve and this is serving the youth and that’s an important aspect of our whole program,” said Palmer.

Beilke noted there were many other efforts from students that were capable of winning.

“The winning entries all were very strong pieces of art that showed great thought and effort on the challenging theme of ‘Leading with Compassion,’” she said. “We had so many more high level posters that could also have been selected.”

Those pieces of art will get a public showing in early March. The projects not only get entered into the Lions Peace Poster Contest but also are displayed at the Frazee Spring Arts Festival at the Frazee High School on the evening of March 9 in the main gym. 

“All students’ work will be displayed and we encourage our families and communities to join us for the free event that celebrates not only the visual arts but music: choirs, bands, ensembles, drama: groups from the musical and dance,” Beilke said. “We will recognize the 4 students who won locally and the Nolan Prellwitzs’ work that won at the mid-winter conference which included 67 Lions and Leos clubs. We hope Nolan does well and we can celebrate yet another accomplishment for him, our school and the arts program.”