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CHARLESTON -- What is your hope for a better world? As part of a summer art contest, students from Lincoln, Logan and Kanawha counties submitted drawings and poems of their vision for a better world during COVID-19. This summer, The Education Alliance offered the Summer Mentoring Art Resources and Training (smART) project to help students express their thoughts and feelings through art during these challenging times. This project was made possible through funding from the WV Humanities Council, FestivALL, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, and the City of Charleston.

“When young people learn how to create art, they also learn how to tell their own unique stories, and speak out about their own lives and experiences,” said Eric Waggoner, Executive Director of the West Virginia Humanities Council. “The West Virginia Humanities Council is honored to support The Education Alliance in their efforts to combine the arts and humanities for hundreds of regional students.”

Through this project 200 students from the Bob Burdette Center and Step by Step received a creative capsule art toolkit with supplies to put their thoughts and feelings on paper. West Virginia artist, teacher, and writer Paula Kaufman provided students with a training about the showcase. Paula, originally from South Charleston, has national and international experience as a teacher. She is a painter and poet whose poems have appeared in many literary journals. Student artwork was judged by community members who voted on student artwork in three categories – best artwork, best message and most creative.

"I'm glad students still have a space and an opportunity to make and share art during this pandemic,” said Paula Kaufman, West Virginia Artist, Teacher and Writer. “Art creates community, even if it is virtually."

Students who submitted the top 12 projects will receive an art prize pack and have their art or poetry featured in The Education Alliance's 2021 calendar. The following students won the smART Showcase:


Best Artwork

  • 1st Place: Hearts of Love Garden by Ka'zanae Nelson, PreK, New Beginnings
  • 2nd Place: Home Is Where the Heart Is by Kinsley Baldwin and Hunter Carter, Pre-K and 2nd Grade, Harts PK-8

Best Message

  • 1st Place: We Shall Overcome by Olivia Adkins, 1st Grade, Big Ugly
  • 2nd Place: Stop Doing Bad Things by Ally, 3rd Grade, Flinn Elementary

Most Creative

  • 1st Place: A Brighter World by Jacob Vanmetter, 5th Grade, Harts PK-8
  • 2nd Place: A Perfect World by Tyler Cincell, 5th Grade, Harts PK-8


Best Artwork

  • 1st Place: Peace and Love by Keniya Eichmond, 6th Grade, West Side Middle
  • 2nd Place: Unknowable Possibility Peaceful Nation by Keister Cheistan and Keena Vanatter, 12th and 8th Grade, Chapmanville Regional High and Homeschool

Best Message

  • 1st Place: Gat a Safe World by Skylar Rayne Scarberry, 8th Grade, Sissonville Middle
  • 2nd Place: The Boat of Dreams by Zinika Rice, 8th Grade, Hurricane Middle

Most Creative

  • 1st Place: Love is Love by Cheria Willams, 7th Grade, Horace Mann Middle
  • 2nd Place: It’s Up to Us by Raelgnn Scarberry, 6th Grade, Sissonville Middle

“The Education Alliance is grateful for the West Virginia Humanities Council support for our smART project that provided hundreds of students in Lincoln, Logan, and Kanawha counties with a creative capsule packed full of free art supplies,” said Dr. Amelia Courts, President/CEO of The Education Alliance. “Through collaboration with our partners, the Alliance supported students with hands-on, summer enrichment activities that sparked their vision for a better world during COVID-19.”

The smART project was offered in partnership between The Education Alliance, the Bob Burdette Center and Step by Step, and was made possible by the WV Humanities Council, FestivALL, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, and the City of Charleston. This program is made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the federal CARES Act through the West Virginia Humanities Council. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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