Thursday, January 7, 2010
By SUE WATSON
The town of Byhalia and Byhalia Elementary School have been made proud with fifth grader Andrew Wilkerson tying for first place in the Public Broadcasting Corporation’s 2009 Holiday Card Contest.
Wilkerson, 12, tied for first place and won a $100 gift basket, an iPod Nano, and a framed print of his card, “Singing Dog.”
Cynthia Chitwood, who works with about 45 gifted students at Byhalia Elementary and Middle School, beamed at the special celebration PBS held at the town hall in Byhalia, December 21. Mayor Phil Malone, principal Kerry Reid, Andrew’s parents Eugene and Anna Wilkerson, his twin brother Adam and sister Brittney, and Maggie Stevenson, Kesia Horton and Deyanna Jenkins with the PBS early childhood literacy program, and grandparents Buddy and Zetty Wilkerson and James Glosson, gathered around the punch bowl and cake platter to help Andrew enjoy a special recognition.
Chitwood was especially proud because four or five of her students created Christmas cards for the contest, which drew over 350 entries this year, Stevenson said.
“It’s awesome because this is such a small little town to get a statewide recognition,” Chitwood said. “This will give students a drive to do even better.”
Chitwood has taught at the Byhalia school for four years and has 34 years’ teaching experience, the remainder in Arkansas and Georgia.
Andrew’s mother, Anna, said her son is a great interior designer and he loves the Christmas season.
His dad was proud, too. A former truck driver, Eugene Wilkerson now works for Walmart and drives a school bus. His brother Adam is also an artist and his grandpa, James Glosson, plays guitar.
Stevenson thanked all the teachers in the state who encouraged their students to participate. It was the school librarian at Byhalia school who saw the notice of the contest and passed the information on to Chitwood.
“It is because of teachers like you that we are able to do what we do,” said Stevenson.
Reid thanked PBS for coming to Byhalia to present the award.
“I want to remind Andrew how proud we are of having him represent us,” he said.
Malone said Andrew had made the community proud because of Chitwood’s and Andrew’s efforts.
“We have great talent here and this could open many doors,” Reid said.
Stevenson, director of the childhood literacy program at PBS, said reproductions of Andrew’s card have been sent out to the media and to elected officials, including the governor.
“It is amazing the talent we have (in Mississippi youth),” she added.
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