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Two Great Oaks Student Recognized for Creativity and Artistic Abilities

Creating artwork takes time, dedication, and perseverance, and two scholars at Great Oaks Academy are reaping the reward of their hard work. Chiamaka Nwachukwu, sixth-grade student, and Julianna Mitchell, eighth-grade student, were selected as part of the Top 100 in Michigan for the Michigan Art Education Association's State Exhibition (MAEA). ​​​​​​​

Three Great Oaks middle school artists were first entered into the MAEA Region 6 Show, and were accepted into the regional show. Two pieces of student work could then be entered into the state level showcase to be considered. A judge then selected the Top 100 and Top 18 for the Middle Level from student work across the state of Michigan. Both works of art that were submitted on behalf of Great Oaks were selected for the Top 100! These works will now be included in the virtual state showcase for MAEA.
“I am tremendously grateful and proud that both of these young artists received this honor, especially during this abnormal school year,” said Courtney Miller, kindergarten through eighth-grade art teacher at Great Oaks. “Remote learning required that they find the time and willingness to create at a high level outside of the normal class period, and they definitely did that!”

Both students and their families were thrilled to hear that their artwork had been selected for the show.

“Highlighting and celebrating the work of young artists shows that we see the value of Fine Arts in our daily lives, and we recognize the hours of labor these individuals put into honing their craft,” said Miller. “Our students are full of ideas and opinions that they want to share, and the Fine Arts allow them to communicate in a universal language of humanity that we all can connect with.”

Chiamaka created her artwork on her own and shared it with Miller as part of her Featured Artist article in the Virtual Art Newsletter that she shares out weekly at Great Oaks. Julianna's artwork of the singer Halsey was originally part of a digital art skill building exercise that she took to immediately. This led Julianna to explore the media further, resulting in the final portrait.

Miller shared that one thing a year of quarantining has shown society is that the Fine Arts are essential to a fulfilling life. “I don't know a single person who didn't try out a new artmaking practice, learn a musical instrument, or start a home project to make it through that period of isolation,” said Miller. “The Arts have become something that many folks view as non-essential and meant for a group of naturally gifted individuals, which isn't the case at all. The piece of technology you're reading this on has been designed by an artist to best fit your needs. Same goes for the chair you sit in, the utensil you use to eat, and the colors used to grab your attention as you walk down the street.”

Miller doesn’t just teach students to cut paper and color; she teaches students to view the world around them and use their observations to inform their place in the world. The critical thinking and creating skills that she teaches are crucial to every aspect of her artists' education.

“I was most excited to see that these young ladies were getting the acknowledgement and honors that I knew they deserved for their hours of hard work,” said Miller. “There were times that they wanted to give up, but they were able to persevere and push through to the finish line. As an artist, I understand those moments of wanting to walk away from a seemingly never-ending project, and I am so glad that they are being honored for pushing through to the end!”