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Fifth Graders Honored for Sharing their Vision of a Better World

Simon Eye Associates recently sponsored its first-ever art contest to bring attention to May’s designation as Healthy Vision Month. Using a clever play on words, the local provider of comprehensive adult and pediatric eye care asked artists of all ages to create their own vision for a better world. “I am very selective about the contests I encourage my students to enter,” shared visual arts instructor Nina Silverman-Weeks, “but I liked the concept, and I found the play on words intriguing. My fifth and sixth-grade students entered their work for consideration, along with a few seventh and eighth graders.”
Silverman-Weeks recently learned from Simon Eye’s Chief Operating and Service Officer Ellen Firestone that two of her fifth-grade students were awarded prizes and special recognition for their submissions. Rowan Avatara '26 and Elena Amado '26 completed works that impressed the judges. So much so, that Avatara was honored for artistic expression in the 7–12 age group and earned the Grand Prize for artistic expression in all age groups. Amado won for overall vision in the 7–12 age group. Their work, along with those of others who participated, was on display at Simon Eye’s Limestone Road office during the month of May and the early weeks of June. Firestone commented: “Our staff and patients enjoyed seeing the display of student artwork. It is great to know that we have such wonderful future leaders in the making.”

Avatara’s piece was entitled “My Vision for the World,” which centered around peace, harmony and utopia. He used card stock, watercolors, colored pencils, and Sharpie markers to create animals that symbolized his key elements, including doves for peace, bees for harmony, and butterflies for equality and freedom. At the center of his work was a cherry tree that represented utopia and acted as an attraction for the animals with the hope that they would live in harmony.

Avatara shared: “My art is inspired by anime, Japan, Korean pop music, Asian food, and the world around me. I love bright colors and I enjoy expressing myself through art.” As a grand prize winner, Avatara was afforded the opportunity to donate $500 of his prize money to the school of his choice. He generously selected Sanford, and the funds will be used to assist the visual arts department with special supplies and equipment. Avatara plans to use the remainder of his prize money to enjoy a day trip to New York City.

Amado’s piece is entitled “Do Your Part to Stop Racism.” Also working with colored pencils and thin Sharpie markers, Amado created a powerful image of two arms—one white and one black—holding hands with a picture of the world in the background with the word PEACE at the top.

Amado shared that during her study of slavery in social studies class she was astonished to learn the treatment people received was based solely on their skin color. She explained: “I believe that the world can be different and that all people can be treated equally and live in a place where everyone can be kind to each other. I want the world to be a place where people can go outside without being worried about racism. I was so surprised by what I learned; I was happy to have a place to let it all out—through my art!” Like her classmate, Amado also received a $150 gift card for her personal use.
We congratulate Rowan and Elena for their creativity, passion, and ability to create a vision for a better world. We also congratulate Mrs. Silverman-Weeks for encouraging and nurturing young artists and allowing their voices to shine through their artwork.
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