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William James Middle awarded GSU eagle sculpture
7th-grader wins design contest
W 121812 EAGLE PARADE 01
William James Middle School seventh grader Kelsey Fallin, 12, bottom right, gets a round of applause from Georgia Southern University mascot Gus and principal Mike Yawn, top, after winning first place for her design in the county-wide Eagle Nation on Parade contest staged by Georgia Southern University. The design was one of more than 460 submitted by Bulloch County Schools students and will be applied to a six-foot-tall eagle sculpture which will be displayed at the school. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    Seventh-grade art student Kelsey Fallin was announced Tuesday as the winner of the inaugural Georgia Southern University Eagle Nation in Education contest, awarding her the chance to personally design an eagle sculpture for her school.
    University President Brooks Keel, Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson, and several school representatives revealed the news during a morning ceremony at Kelsey’s school, William James Middle.
    Kelsey, emotional when accepting the honor, was given a standing ovation by classmates, teachers and parents in the school cafeteria.
    “I was shocked,” she said. “And I was excited.”
    The Eagle Nation in Education competition, a part of the college’s Eagle Nation on Parade community art project, challenged students to create a visually artistic design for a 6-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture of an eagle — like others already stationed around Statesboro.
    “This project allowed Bulloch County students to express, create and expand their artistic talents,” Keel said. “We are so very thankful for area businesses and other supporters for their commitment to this unique art project, and support for Georgia Southern University. We are especially appreciative for all of the students that participated in this project.”
    Kelsey’s design was selected from among a total of 464 submissions. Participating students —in grades three through 12 — represented each of Bulloch County’s schools.
     “We are proud and honored to be a part of this art project that Georgia Southern is promoting,” Wilson said. “In my opinion, this is a shining example of how our two institutions work together to benefit our students and community. The arts are precious to all of us and we want to be able to promote opportunities to students.”
    By virtue of winning the contest, Kelsey will work with Janet Suarez, a Master of Fine Arts candidate from the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art at Georgia Southern, to transform her design onto an Eagle Nation on Parade sculpture that will be displayed at William James Middle. Kelsey and Suarez will be given a $100 stipend to purchase art supplies for the project.
    The sculpture, valued at $10,000, was purchased by the university and will be donated to William James — typically, the Eagle Nation on Parade sculptures are purchased by area businesses and other supporters for display.
    “This was our opportunity to give back to the community,” said Dr. Curtis Ricker, the dean of Georgia Southern’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “We wanted to reach out to the public and private schools in the area because our local schools are very rich in their support for cultural activities like art and music. We are extremely appreciative that our community offers those opportunities.”
    Kelsey’s design incorporates an American and Bulloch County theme. Along with the nation’s flag, the plan incorporates the Bulloch County Courthouse and Averitt Center for the Arts.
    Her teacher, William James art instructor Autumn Horton, was on hand for the  announcement.
    “I am so unbelievably proud of all of my students. They worked so hard and were so creative,” Horton said. “They took elements of art I taught them and ran with it.”
    Before locating to William James, the completed eagle sculpture will be unveiled at the Georgia Southern University ArtsFest on April 6.
    The university also awarded runner-up ribbons to students in elementary, middle and high school divisions.
    Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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