A few years ago, Avoca District 37 art teacher Kelly Sabatini was introduced to Alice Katrich by her older brother, and Sabatini’s then-student, Daniel.
As part of the introduction, Daniel called Alice an artist — a surprising title, Sabatini thought, since Alice was just 6 years old at the time.
Fast-forward to today and because of that interaction, Sabatini was not surprised this time around, when Alice was the winner of an intradistrict mask-designing competition.
“She’s a naturally gifted artist. It’s not really surprising that hers won,” Sabatini said.
Alice was one of 33 students to submit original designs for the contest, which was judged by more than 200 Avoca students and staff members.
Her design features a white crescent moon opposite a radiant yellow sun, both floating in a star-studded deep blue sky.
The design was printed on masks that were distributed to school employees in January and will be sold for $8 to benefit the Avoca Viking Fund, which provides financial assistance to Avoca families to allow all students to have access to activities, clubs and more.
The mask contest was the brainchild of Superintendent Dr. Kaine Osburn, who brought it to Sabatini near the beginning of the school year.
Sabatini opened the project up to her students in sixth through eighth grade with the condition they do the work on their own time — no easy task for a preteen. But Sabatini was proud of the result.
“It was fun to see what they came up with on their own,” she said. “I’m used to class where I can see the process of something and have discussions with the kids about what they are working on. It was cool to let them have complete control and creative freedom.”
Some students used the school colors, others the school mascots, others just creative images and designs.
And in the end, voters favored Alice’s design.