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Awarding ‘Bully-Free’ artistry

Students at John F. Kennedy Middle School were awarded on Friday for their outstanding artwork in the Poster Arts Contest that was held by the Suffolk (VA) Chapter of Links, Inc.

Seventeen JFKMS eighth-graders made their own creative posters with help from Suffolk Public Schools art teacher Susan Owens. The posters were designed according to the theme “A Bully-Free World.”

Each student received a certificate and two gift cards for their participation in the contest. One of these gift cards came from the John F. Kennedy High School Alumni Association, and the other came from the Links.

The three contest winners were also awarded trophies, and their artwork will be submitted to the national poster art contest for the National Assembly of Links, Inc., which will be held this June in New Orleans, La.

First place was awarded to Raezhia Artis for her poster titled “Save The Phone.” Aaliyah Jackson took second place with her poster “Does Your Mirror Reflect a Bully?” and Yahmani Elliott was awarded third place for his “Nursing Bully” poster.

These art submissions were judged by three members of the Suffolk community, including Suffolk (VA) Chapter alumna Sarah Walden, former Suffolk Public Schools coordinator Charlene Andrews, and Howard Green, a former art teacher for both John F. Kennedy High School and John F. Kennedy Middle School.

Green retired in 2011 with 33 years of experience in teaching art between the two schools.

“In art, the message is not so much the words, as much as the visual imagery,” Green said.

The art pieces were judged for their adherence to the given theme, and for their design and visual presentation, Green said. He looked for posters that were put together with the right combination of different elements that created balance and unity.

He was especially impressed by the originality of the students’ art pieces he reviewed.

“When you bring that newness and freshness to (your art), it makes your message more profound to the person that’s looking at it,” he said.

Links, Inc. is an international non-profit organization that counts more than 16,000 professional women of color as members, in 288 chapters across 41 states and Washington, D.C., the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom.

There are five different facets to Links programming, which includes the Arts, Health and Human Services, International Trends and Services, National Trends and Services, and Service to Youth.

Members of the Suffolk (VA) Chapter of Links, Inc. actively engage with the Suffolk community through activities such as tutoring, school supply donations, mentoring, dental screenings and anti-bullying workshops.

The Poster Arts Contest at John F. Kennedy Middle School was one of the Suffolk chapter’s outreach projects for the arts, and the chapter was impressed by the creativity of the school’s young artists.

“I hope they will continue using their art skills, because this could carry them through college and into a future career,” said Duanne Hoffler-Foster, president of the Suffolk chapter.