QACPS Superintendent Surprises KES 3rd grader Adelaine Gray with Art Award!

CENTREVILLE — On Thursday, November 30th, Queen Anne’s County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia Saelens orchestrated a memorable visit to Kennard Elementary to bestow the 3rd annual Art Greeting Card Contest Award upon 3rd grader Adelaine Gray. The competition, a personal favorite of Dr. Saelens, culminates in the winning artwork gracing the Superintendent’s official greeting card, distributed to dignitaries ranging from the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools to the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners to other local government entities and community organizations.

The heartwarming affair unfolded as Dr. Saelens engaged with Adelaine’s family, expressing the difficulty of choosing a winner amid the county’s abundance of artistic talent. Adelaine’s father, Mr. Gray was treated to a preview of his daughter’s framed masterpiece, featuring the painted scene of the historic Queen Anne’s County Courthouse adorned with Christmas lights on a snowy winter day. View video of the unveiling here:

Dr. Saelens shared with Mr. Gray and Kennard Elementary Principal Michelle Carey, “This is one of my favorite days of the year, and it’s one of the hardest decisions I have to make as a Superintendent—because there are A LOT of great artists in our county!”

The festive occasion extended to Adelaine’s art teacher, Garnette Hines, who received acknowledgement and a framed picture for her role in nurturing students’ creativity. Michael Bell, Supervisor of Visual and Performing Arts for QACPS, highlighted the contest’s theme, ‘Winter in Queen Anne’s,’ which attracted forty-six stellar entries from seven elementary schools. Bell said, “The challenge for Dr. Saelens (who created this great contest) is to pick just one!”

Shedding light on the meticulous selection process, emphasizing the challenge of choosing a single winner from the top-notch submissions, involves the submissions being preloaded into a PowerPoint with no names, grades, or identifying school information. Small printed versions of each image are also laid out on the Superintendent’s desk for her to narrow them down from an initial ‘top 10’, to a ‘top 5’ then ‘top 3’ before finalizing her decision, which was Adelaine’s painting of the old Centreville Courthouse.

The Superintendent’s surprise visit to Kennard Elementary held extra significance for Adelaine, as her mother serves as Kennard’s School Library Media Specialist, so it was a ‘double surprise!’ The unveiling happened to coincide with Dr. Saelens’ pre-planned reading session to Adelaine’s 3rd grade class in the library, resulting in a delightful surprise for Adelaine and her family.

Mrs. Gray thanked everyone after the surprise visit, saying “Thank you for creating amazing programs that allow our kids to explore their passions and cultivate their talents.”

Mrs. Hines said, “Lainey has impressed me SO MUCH since she started at KES—her abilities at such a young age reflect the strong foundation of art education she has received, and a family that has supported her creativity. I look forward to seeing what she creates over the next few years at Kennard!”

Addressing her classmates, Dr. Saelens commended the young artist, declaring her artwork as the official Christmas card for the entire state of Maryland. Adelaine, in turn, shared the inspiration behind her painting, earning applause from her peers.

“It’s so impressive!” exclaimed Dr. Saelens. “This is going to be my new Christmas card this year for every single county in the state of Maryland. You are quite an artist. I can’t believe you’re only in 3rd grade.” The class gave Adelaine a round of applause.

This heartwarming tradition seamlessly blends holiday cheer with artistic celebration. As the Superintendent encouraged the Gray family to visit the festively adorned courthouse, captured in a shared photograph, the occasion underscored the enduring joy and community spirit fostered by this annual tradition.

View the video of the award unveiling, along with images of all QACPS student entries at the end, celebrating all students who created artwork for this annual contest here: