Kathleen Sneed Petka, the visual art teacher at Walton for more than 10 years, signed her students up for the competition in October. The students were so busy with other art activities and schoolwork that they didn’t get started on the mural until a week before its deadline in November.
In just less than a week, Petka watched as her students brought a blank 50 square-foot canvas to life with the theme “Water is Life.”
During a week of 50-minute classes and an afternoon after school, the students delegated painting jobs amongst themselves in order to finish it in time, said National Art Honor Society Co-President senior Hudson Tsay.
“It was a collective effort for everyone,” Tsay said.
The students broke the canvas down into three main scenes emanating from a giant globe. Two sections feature deep sea scenes with a pink jellyfish and clown fish; the other section depicts a river flowing from the base of a mountain range.
Co-president Kira Debruyn worked on the underwater life section on the right side of the mural. She said she was not surprised the mural took first place in the nation because the group of students worked so hard on the piece.
“It was a lot of fun to paint,” Debruyn said.
The California-based Wyland Foundation sponsored the national contest that ran from Oct. 21 to Nov. 21 with more than 9,000 students in 45 states participating.
The group is a nonprofit, which works to promote, protect and preserve the globe’s waterways and marine life, according to its website.
The foundation provided 300 schools with paint, canvases and supplies for the contest.
Students were asked to create a mural that considered the environmental, economic, national and local water issues. The winning Walton students were awarded $250 for art supplies as well.
Most of the students were juniors and seniors, Petka said.
The mural now hangs in a hallway and will be moved to another hallway at Walton’s new school building when construction is completed, Debruyn said.
The group created the piece in about seven hours, said Monica Machado, a senior and another co-president of the NAHS.
The group of students are all extremely talented, she said, and she was honored that they were recognized on a national level.
“After we finished it, we all just stepped back and were so proud of it,” Machado said.