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Arts To Show Smarts

Looking around the classroom distractedly, my eye catches on something. Bright, swirling colors coming together and…is that bacteria? And a prescription bottle? Taking a closer look, I notice the words, “In Sickness and in Health,” printed above the intricate work of art. The poster, which depicts a man gripping a caduceus atop a prescription bottle, […]

Looking around the classroom distractedly, my eye catches on something. Bright, swirling colors coming together and…is that bacteria? And a prescription bottle?

Taking a closer look, I notice the words, “In Sickness and in Health,” printed above the intricate work of art. The poster, which depicts a man gripping a caduceus atop a prescription bottle, is an advertisement for the upcoming Sacramento County Academic Decathlon competition.

For the first time in Christian Brothers’ history with the competition, a student submitted a piece of artwork to the annual regional academic decathlon poster contest and won. Joshua Elboom (’22) found out about the competition through his art teacher, Mrs. Christine Kerr, and his English teacher, Ms. Mary Bowers.

Ms. Bowers, who has coached academic decathlon for eight years, urges her students to enter every year. Despite her efforts, Josh was the first CB student to ever look into submitting an entry into the poster competition.

“I spread the word,” she says, “I talk to Mrs. Kerr about it in the art department and she encourages students to do it.”

While other schools will go as far as to make the competition a mandatory assignment, Mrs. Kerr is unable to fit the project into her curriculum. Although she wishes that she could assign every art project that comes her way, there are simply too many to fit into the schedule. She affirms that “competitions are optional but encouraged” and hopes Josh’s success will “increase interest in this competition in the future.”

There are a few mandatory projects, such as Christian Brothers’ annual Christmas and Easter cards, but Mrs. Kerr gets many additional requests from other teachers to add in or talk about projects. However, she refuses to push any more mandatory assignments on her students. While she encourages her students to branch out, she wants them to develop their own skills and styles before they concern themselves with meeting the many requirements that come from such competitions.

As criteria for the project, Josh had to pick one of the pieces of art from the academic decathlon material and use it as an influence for his own work. He chose to draw inspiration from The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, combining it with the theme “In Sickness and in Health” to create floating bacteria that imitate Van Gogh’s original masterpiece.

After almost two months of waiting, Ms. Bowers was a little discouraged by a lack of response about the artwork. But when she finally got the news that Josh had won, she wanted to be the first to tell him.

“I saw him at lunch. It was a rainy day, so lunch was in the gym and I saw him. I pulled him over and told him that he won and he was really excited,” she reminisced.

“He works exceptionally hard,” Mrs. Kerr says proudly. “He goes above and beyond what is expected of the class.”

Ms. Bowers shared in Mrs. Kerr’s enthusiasm, stating that she thinks it’s a “wonderful piece of art.”

Josh was enthusiastic, yet surprised about his victory.

“I was not expecting it,” he claimed, “St. Francis wins every year.”

Josh and his parents have been invited to the academic decathlon awards banquet on February 3rd, and he will be given a framed copy of his art as a reward. Additionally, his picture will be printed on all of the regional posters and t-shirts.

We wish the Christian Brothers’ decathletes the best of luck at the Sacramento County Academic Decathlon competition. Regardless of the results, CB can take solace in knowing that we have already succeeded in bringing home a win.

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