Friday, December 03, 1999

Sixth-grader makes mark on Christmas card

Winter scene to be seen nationally

Enquirer Contributor

        Fledgling artist Carolyn Ketchum usually earns A's in art classes at St. Mary School, but she did even better than that with one recent project.

        Carolyn, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at the Hyde Park Roman Catholic parochial school, won a national contest sponsored by Talents Unlimited Inc., a company that sponsors the teaching process used at St. Mary.

        Her drawing of a plump polar bear relaxing with a mug of hot cocoa in a cave, the entrance to which is adorned with a decorated Christmas tree and lighted by a moon and several twinkling stars, was chosen by the Mobile, Ala., company as the cover of its corporate holiday greeting card.

        “May your holiday season bring many, varied causes for warmth and won der,” is the greeting printed inside. The bear has a smile of contented satisfaction as he grips the mug with both paws. The mug and the steam rising from the cocoa inside have been colored red is the only change from Carolyn's entry. Credit is given on the back.

        Carolyn and her homeroom teacher, Angie Loftus, both received a stack of the beige, horizontal cards. Talents also sent certificates of recognition for Carolyn and her class.

        “I had lots of ideas,” said Carolyn, the daughter of Gail and Joel Ketchum of Oakley. “I thought about something with a lot of Christmas trees, or maybe just some kids having a snowball fight. But I like polar bears.”

        Talents Unlimited is an educational approach that, according to Ms. Loftus, “teaches children how to be critical thinkers. It's not just rote memorization. We teach them how to problem-solve and how to make good decisions.”

        St. Mary is one of 13 schools Talents has desig nated as national demonstration sites, but more than 2,500 schools use the program in some or all of their grade levels. Talents solicited black-and-white entries from the sixth-grade students of these schools for its 1999 greeting card, including the 64 at St. Mary.

        “They were asked to not make it religious,” said Shannon Celarek, St. Mary director of public relations and development. “They were to make it secular. Talents is national, but it's not religious-based.”

        Carolyn's only previous awards were for bookmark contests when she was in the first and second grades, she said.

        “I've always been interested in art,” she said, adding that her favorite format is drawing with colored pencils.

        She may have inherited her interest from her mother, a clothes designer.

        “I took this home and told my mom what I wanted to do,” said Carolyn, who also plays basketball on a St. Mary team. “She just watched me.

        “They made an announcement at the end of the day. (Ms. Loftus) said, "One lucky person in this room has won the card contest.' Then she looked around the room and said, "Carolyn Ketchum.' I was like, "Ooh, wow!'”

        “She's a very good student,” Ms. Loftus said of Carolyn. “She works very hard. She's always kind of quiet in class.

        “I was excited when she won, because she's not one of those who's always in the limelight.”


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