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Area academy students earn national honor
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Gilberto Agripino and Sonya Le are two of six winners of the full steam ahead with books art competition in the third- through fifth-grade individual category.

Sponsored by Nestlé USA, the competition encourages students in Reading Is Fundamental programs to create art that expresses how books have fueled their passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — or STEAM subjects.

Students created winning pieces during an art honors class, which meets after school Thursdays at Gainesville Exploration Academy.

Art teacher Tandy Ray first challenged students to create a design incorporating the STEAM/reading idea in their sketchbooks. Ray did not tell the students it was for a contest until they brainstormed ideas and drew an initial design. The process helps students to think more creatively first before inserting any pressure of awards.

Once the initial design idea was developed, students were shown a variety of art techniques to choose from to create their pieces. Students worked for a few weeks, doing self-assessments along the way to ensure quality.

“Gilberto and Sonya are outstanding students and wonderful artist,” Ray said. “I’m very proud of them.”

The school the children attend will receive $2,500 ($1,250 per winner) worth of books as well as RIF’s STEAM-themed multicultural book collection. Each RIF site will receive a cash prize for a reading celebration and recognition ceremony where the students will be awarded certificates.

The competition is part of RIF’s multi-year early childhood literacy campaign to inspire the next generation of innovators through an approach integrating the arts with STEAM learning.

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