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Kids talk harmony with artwork

The Arts Center honored winners in the second phase of the Word and Image Elementary School show Sunday at an awards ceremony at the downtown gallery.

Top awards went to Danielle Garcia, a fifth-grader at Palm Harbor Elementary School; Tyler Bradbury, a fourth-grader at Perkins Elementary School; and Ahvelle Jenkins, a fourth-grader at Southern Oak Elementary School.

Seven students earned honorable mention awards: Dakota Price, Grade 3, Northwest Elementary; Kelsi Meliah-Zona, Grade 4, Palm Harbor Elementary; Amanda Green, Grade 4, and Cindy Schwartz, Grade 3, Perkins Elementary; Shawn Hathaway, Grade 5, Plumb Elementary; Jules Jouffroy, Grade 4, Shorecrest Preparatory School; and Justine Agosto, Grade 5, Woodlawn Elementary.

Additionally, Sam Graus, a third-grader at St. Paul's School, won a Pinellas County Art Educators Association Young Artist award.

Elementary school students countywide were invited last fall to create visual art with a written companion piece on the theme Celebrating Harmony for the show, a long-running partnership between Pinellas County schools and the Arts Center.

The gallery featured the first half of the show in December. Middle and high school shows will follow in the spring.

Juror Mary Lee Zink, children's painting and drawing instructor at the Arts Center, selected the winners for the current show from entries submitted by 80 children at 20 public and private schools.

This year's theme, chosen to coincide with an outdoor art display in Straub Park promoting compassion and harmony called Coexistence, elicited a wide range of responses from children, said Amanda Cooper, curator of exhibitions for the Arts Center. Among her personal favorites was a series of cartoons that told "a little moral lesson."

"The children know what's right and what's wrong," she said. "They come up with some very insightful things that many adults aren't conscious of."