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Small school, big award: Belleville Henderson student brings home gold

Local student wins national award
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:43 AM EDT
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Emily Griffin tells us about Kambylle Allen, a Belleville Henderson student who made history winning gold at the National Scholastics art competition.

BELLEVILLE, New York (WWNY) - No student from Belleville Henderson has ever taken the gold at the National Scholastics Art & Writing Competition. Until now.

“A part of me still doesn’t believe that I won something this big,” Kambylle Allen said.

Allen, a senior, was inspired to make a ceramic piece during the pandemic on which each mask represented the progression of her emotions.

“The happy one is before COVID,” she said. The out-of-sorts was when we started hearing about COVID, the frustrated was being at home 24/7, then this the last one was coming in this year: you’re allowed to be in here, but you have to wear masks 24/7.”

She usually does drawings or paintings but wanted to try something new -- and fast.

“I procrastinated a little bit and I actually made all of the masks in one day,” she said.

For a piece with such a quick turnaround, she wasn’t sure how it would fare in the regional competition.

But it won gold and advanced to the national competition. Out of 260,000 submissions, only 2,000 won.

Allen’s art teacher couldn’t wait to tell her she was one of them.

“Being a smaller school, we are proud because it is harder to compete when we have these bigger school districts that have art classes to advance level 8 and we’re lucky to have an advanced level,” Sarah Fowler said. “We’re really proud. It’s really exciting.”

“I was, like, I didn’t believe it,” Allen said. “I was, like, there’s no way I could’ve won.”

As a gold medalist she’ll be going to a ceremony this summer at Carnegie Hall in New York City to meet other artists, tour art museums, participate in workshops, and meet producers. It will all help in sculpting her future as an artist.

To put into perspective how esteemed this art competition is, some past winners include Stephen King and Andy Warhol. Could our north country native be the next great? It’s certainly possible.

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