It’s not every day that a 10-year-old has a chance to display his or her artwork professionally. But five Heathwood 5th graders were recently awarded a chance to do just that—and they’re the 16th group of Highlanders to do so.
5th graders Gabe Cooper, Eliza Kitchens, Franklin Middleton, John Nagy, and Ellie Spicer are the winners of this year’s McWaters Office Art Competition, which was established in 2000 by the McWaters office interiors company. Under the direction of Middle School Art Teacher Clare Scurry, the 5th grade students created multi-view art in which they each explored an animal from various angles and perspectives. The McWaters Company then chose five students’ work to hang in their offices for the next year.
The competition grew out of the McWaters Company’s recognition that the best work environments inspire employees to be more creative and productive. Drawing on their experience creating optimal work environments for their clients, the McWaters team wanted to add inspiring elements to their own workplace and felt that Heathwood student artwork could help provide the creative spark they were looking for. “They liked the idea of displaying 5th grade artwork because students that age are capable of very sophisticated work and are also creative and uninhibited,” says Mrs. Scurry. “The student work they choose each year is displayed where it can be a focal point that inspires creative thinking.”
The partnership with McWaters, Mrs. Scurry says, has been productive both for the company and for the 16 generations of Heathwood 5th graders who have participated: “The McWaters people have really been wonderful about encouraging and validating our students. They make sure the students and their families know that they’re welcome to come by any time and see their artwork. And they give the kids tours around their office, which is interesting because they’re very tech-savvy. We had a student last year who was so fascinated that he didn’t want to leave.”