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Walking across the campus of Bing Elementary School in Tampa, art is everywhere! Students’ work is hanging on every building, attached to the fence and implemented into the staircase.
The school even has an art club for its fourth and fifth grade students.
Clearly, creativity is embraced at Bing.
“It allows them to express themselves,” said Art Teacher Carol Blume. “I think art is very important. Everything is visual, I love seeing that spark of excitement.”
That’s why, when Bing was selected to participate in the Ameriprise Holiday Art Contest—along with Hammond Elementary and Alafia Elementary—Mrs. Blume jumped at the chance to have her students take part.
The Ameriprise Holiday Art Contest is the brainchild of Mr. Lance Becatti, a franchisee of Ameriprise for 35 years. “This is a gift from me to the schools to sponsor art creativity,” said Mr. Becatti. “I have been very blessed and enjoy “paying it forward” especially with children, whenever I can.”
Mr. Becatti challenged the schools to create holiday artwork that Ameriprise could send out as its holiday card.
Mrs. Blume’s art students at Bing Elementary loved the idea of the contest, and spent several days working on their holiday art.
It paid off!
Bing Elementary won TWO of the awards!
Fourth grade student McKenzie Bowling was awarded an Honorable Mention and $250 from Mr. Becatti… And fourth grader Alex Calabrese won FIRST PLACE and $500!
That money will now go toward art supplies for Bing Elementary, which McKenzie says her school desperately needs.
“I feel happy because I think the school needs money to buy more art supplies,” explained McKenzie. “Some kids don’t have enough money for good stuff at home, so when they come to school they can have art supplies to do fun activities with.”
McKenzie said she hopes the school spends the money on new sketchbooks and colored pencils and these really expensive art pens that she loves to work with.
Alex wants paint. A lot of paint!
Mrs. Blume can’t wait to get them what they need. “We’re in desperate need of art supplies,” she said. “This is huge. I had to go out and buy markers for these kids to do projects with, there were no markers in the classroom… And the paints are in horrible shape. I’ll be thrilled if I can spend the money on that.”
While the money for art supplies is a wonderful bonus… The biggest prize is how winning makes the students feel. That is a big part of why Mr. Becatti started the contest. “I am trying to provide an outlet to recognize a child for their talent when personality, or social stature or just outright life, things may not be so good,” he explained.
When asked how he feels knowing his artwork will be displayed on holiday cards sent out by a big company, Alex smiled and said, “I feel happy, energetic… And proud!”