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Native American students in CK gear up for national art competition

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

Submissions are now being taken for the third annual Native American Student Artist Competition. The competition is open to all students in the Central Kitsap School District (CKSD) of Native American or Alaska Native descent in grades Pre-K through 12 and will include writing entries for the first time ever.

Art entries can take the form of everything from painting and drawing to computer art, while writing entries must be formatted as personal narratives.

The theme for the 2008 competition is Circle of Empowerment: Education, Language, Culture, Tradition. All entries, art and writing, must relate to the theme and “reflect the promise and importance of pursuing an education for Native youth,” according to CKSD.

The competition is pretty stiff; more than 1,400 entries were taken from across the country last year, up from just a few hundred in 2005.

Students participating in the competition are mostly on their own, though they’ll sometimes receive guidance from teachers.

“I’m more of a motivator and an excavator — I excavate motivation from them,” said Cathy N. Wolfe, an art docent at Jackson Park Elementary School.

Wolfe has made the competition part of her curriculum for the past couple years.

“I come in at the beginning and walk with them and once they get walking, I encourage them,” she said. “I’m just there to support.”

The competition was created in 2005 by the Office of Indian Education, a division of the U.S. Department of Education. Staff members of the National Museum of the American Indian, along with OIE representatives, judge the entries each year.

Prizes are awarded to first-, second- and third-place finishers and vary based on grade levels. Most placers receive a plaque and “age appropriate art supplies and materials.” Placers in the 11th- and 12th-grade category receive scholarship funds — $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place and $250 for third place.

Only one student from Washington state placed in last year’s competition.

The deadline for this year’s competition is March 14. Students can enter and view rules online at www.indianeducation.org/sac.

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