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Students awarded prizes in First District Congressional Arts competition
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Amanda Kessler and her mother stand in front of her winning piece, Jaguar King. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

RUSSELL — Approximately 50 people were on hand April 6 when the Deines Cultural Center hosted the awards ceremony for the 2013 First Congressional District High School Arts Competition. The crowd viewed a gallery display of the 130 pieces submitted by students representing six high schools.  
Congressman Tim Huelskamp said, “It was my pleasure to present the Congressional Art Competition awards to the winners. Professor (Leland) Powers wasn’t kidding when he said choosing the Best of Show winner was difficult. The numerous outstanding submissions confirm that Kansas is blessed with more than its share of talented young artists.”
For overall awards, the top honors went to Hill City High School student Amanda Kessler and Wheatland High School student Tristan Rathgerber. Kessler won “Best of Show” for her drawing entitled “Jaguar King.” Her drawing will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year. The runner-up, Rathgerber, won Honorable Mention, for the first-place painting.
Winners in all categories were:
• Printmaking: 1st Shannon Toll, Hill City High School; 2nd Trevin Renken, Little River High School
• Photography: 1st Esther Todd, Wheatland High School; 2nd Mariah Renken, Little River
• Painting: 1st Tristan Rathgerber; 2nd Keana Keck Colby High School  
• Mixed Media: 1st Madison Wright, Little River; 2nd Kasey Zeller, Little River
• Drawing: 1st Amanda Kessler; 2nd Christie Johnson, Hill City.
Leland Powers, Arts & Design chairman at Fort Hays State University, thanked Huelskamp for participating as juror in this year’s competition. “The job is not an easy one,” he said. “The First District is blessed with some of the finest art programs in the nation.  As one who sees a lot of high school artworks, I was very impressed with these entries.  The broad scope of variety of conceptual interpretation, combined with a high level of technical facility and a high quality presentation allowed the awarded pieces to rise to the top.  Congratulations to all entrants, the category winners, and most especially to the Best of Show and Honorable Mention.  Your work will ably represent the excellence of art in Kansas.”