South Gray High School senior wins national art award

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MONTEZUMA, Kansas – Yolanda Peters is more than your average artist.  She is the winner of a national scholastic art contest.

“I never thought I was going to be really, really good at [art],” she said. “But then when I got this award, it showed me that I really was talented, like I had the talent.”

A graduating senior at South Gray High School in Montezuma, Peters won the American Visions Medal from Scholastic for her pastel and charcoal drawing dubbed “Tree In the Background.” She was one of only 75 students across the country to receive the honor out of more than 230,000 entries.

“She thought everybody could draw like she did, and it was just something everybody could do, but now she sees that maybe she is pretty special with her ability,” Kristie Gillespie, Yolanda’s art teacher, said.

The award came as a surprise to Peters, so much so that it helped change her plans for the future.

“I had never thought of going to college because I didn’t actually think I would,” Peters said. “But now I got this award, and so I know I’m going to [Garden City Community College] and I’m going to major in art.”

But before college, Yolanda’s art will be on display along with the other winners at Carnegie Hall in New York City later this month. Gillespie hopes the trip will help broaden Yolanda’s horizons and show her that art can be her life’s work.

“It wasn’t a focus [for Yolanda], and I don’t know why,” Gillespie said. “She has such a natural ability for art. She didn’t realize until now how special her gift was.”

Peters sold prints of her artwork to cover the cost of attending the exhibition with her mother and Gillespie. She says she’s planning to offer more of her artwork online soon to help pay for college.

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