South Fork Student's Art Chosen for Law Firm's Holiday Cards
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
DECEMBER 21, 2018 – South Fork fourth-grader Emma Guerrero Feliz thought that a snowman would be just the thing for the holiday card she was designing.
“I know people like snowmen,” Emma said.
Emma likes bunnies, deer and birds, too. So she included them as well.
The people at the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton liked Emma’s creation so much that they chose it to use for the holiday cards that the firm sends out to clients across the country.
For the past six years or so, the law firm has been using art by a student at South Fork Elementary for its holiday cards.
This year, Emma was one of a number of students that art teacher Leslee Monda invited to create designs for the firm to consider. When the students were done, Monda chose the pictures created by Emma and three other students – Dawn Andrews, Pleh Ma and Annabella Rivas Dominguez – to send to Kilpatrick Townsend.
Most years, Monda said, she doesn’t have a feeling about which one the law firm will choose. This year, she had a feeling it would be Emma’s.
She was right.
On Thursday, two representatives of the law firm – office administrator Melissa Talbert and administrative assistant Maria Balino – came to South Fork to announce the card they had selected.
Monda had known for a while, of course. Later, Emma said that, lately, she had a pretty good idea she was going to win.
“I knew from the way Mrs. Monda was looking at me,” Emma said.
If she hadn’t already known, she would have when fourth- and fifth-graders walked into the art room, and Emma saw her parents Gerald and Amber Noel there with her grandmother Dania Feliz and youngest sister, Aria, who is 2.
Her grandmother lives in the Dominican Republic. Emma hadn’t seen her since about this time last year, and, when she saw her, she raced over and hugged her. Hugs for her parents followed.
Two of Emma’s sisters – her twin, Isabella, and Rebecca, who is in second grade – also go to South Fork, and, when they came in a little later, they, too, gave their grandmother and parents hugs.
Before honoring Emma, Talbert and Balino thanked the other three girls and gave them gift cards. They had had Emma’s art – and the holiday card made from it – framed, and, when they recognized Emma, they gave that to her along with a gift card and lots of holiday cards for her to send to whomever she wants.
Then it was time for a party.
“I am very happy,” said Emma’s mother.
The family came here from the Dominican Republic last year, Amber Noel said, and she appreciates how everyone at South Fork has made everyone feel welcome.
There’s an excellent chance that Emma got her gift for making art from her mother. In the Dominican Republic, Amber Noel studied architecture and worked as a drafter and designer for an architectural firm. She is continuing to study architecture here.
Emma’s father, Gerald Noel, said, “I’m proud of her.”
He wasn’t surprised that her design was chosen, he said, because she is such a gifted artist. Sometimes, she will see an image on his cell phone and be inspired to draw it.
“It looks identical to the image,” he said.
Isabella freely acknowledged that Emma is a better artist than she is. But Isabella is a better runner – much faster – so it works out just fine.
While everyone enjoyed their snacks, the three other girls talked a bit about their cards and art.
Dawn’s card shows a deer looking up into a tree at an owl while a rabbit looks on and cardinals search for food. Dawn is familiar with deer from going to see her grandfather.
“At my grandpa’s house, we have a lot of deer in the woods,” she said.
She also knew she wanted to include a rabbit.
“I think rabbits are pretty,” she said.
Dawn likes to make art and was happy to have her art recognized.
“I feel proud of myself,” she said.
Pleh Ma’s card has a deer and a snowman.
“I wanted to do something I hadn’t done in the past,” she said.
She, too, likes making art a lot.
“You can get creative.”
Annabella’s card has a girl with a snowman and lots of trees.
“I wanted to do a girl,” she said. “I wanted to do something unique.”
Asked what she likes about creating art, Annabella said, “It helps your imagination grow. You can draw whatever you want.”
When she starts a picture, she doesn’t always know where it’s going to go.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you are going to draw,” Annabella said. “Start doodling and your imagination will do a drawing and you will create art.”
The day also brought a gift for Emma’s teacher, Kimberly Staton.
When asked what she wanted to do, Emma said she wanted to a teacher – probably a math teacher, which is Staton’s special subject.
Asked whether Mrs. Staton was the one who inspired her to want to become a teacher, Emma said, she was.
“She is always nice with other people,” Emma said.
Emma is a wonderful person and student, Staton said. “Emma is very sweet. She is very helpful…She lights up the room. When you are around her, you can’t help but be happy.”
Emma has come a long way since the family came here, Staton said.
Monda also spoke highly of Emma as a person as well as an artist.
“She is such a warm, wonderful child,” Monda said.
The art for the law firm grew out of a system-wide project. Each year, students in the Winsotn-Salem/Forsyth County school system are invited to create black-and-white pictures for Superintendent Beverley Emory, school board members and others to choose for their holiday cards.
The cards the South Fork students designed for Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton to consider grew out of that project, Monda said. She was impressed by the work created by a number of the students, she said, and invited those students to work on something for the law firm.
With those, she wanted students to both draw and color their drawings, and, because not everyone celebrates Christmas, she asked them to make a “winter” card.
“I had a few children who are good in art and interested in this,” she said.
Some were so excited that they stayed after school.
“I chose the ones that were the most colorful – most cheerful,” she said.
With Emma’s picture, she said, “There was something about hers that was so friendly.”
Talbert said that they really appreciate the partnership with South Fork. Once Monda sent them the four drawings, people who work at the law firm were invited to vote for the picture they wanted used for the holiday card.
Balino was among those who voted for Emma’s.
“I liked the whole design of the card,” she said. “I really like it.”