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Agawam High School Senior Brandon Avery Wins Congressional Art Award

May 18, 2011
In The News

AGAWAM – Agawam High School senior Brandon Avery has been honored by U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal as the winner of the 2011 Congressional Art Competition.
Neal visited Agawam High on May 16, where he was joined by Mayor Richard Cohen, Superintendent of Schools Mary Czajkowski, state Rep. Nicholas Boldyga, and two of the judges of the competition, to recognize Avery.

Avery’s mother and father, Mary Avery and Paul Avery Jr., and his grandmother, Joan McMahon, were also on hand to see him receive the award.
The competition, entitled “An Artistic Discovery,” is run by members of the U.S. House of Representatives in their respective districts. Avery’s entry depicts a charcoal drawing of two elephants, a mother and its baby, expressing love for each other.

Dave Roback/The RepublicanAgawam High School student Brandon Avery with his award winning 2011 Congressional Art Competition drawing. Congressman Richard E. Neal announced the award at the high school on Monday. From left are parents Mary Avery and Paul Avery Jr., Brandon Avery and grandmother Joan McMahon.
It was suggested that he submit the drawing to the competition by Don Blanton, an artist from whom Avery takes classes. Avery met him after he spoke in Agawam High arts teacher Debora Florek’s class.

The announcement came as a surprise to both Avery and to principal Steven Lemanski.

“I didn’t know, and then we got a call from the congressman’s office setting it up,” said Lemanski.
“I was really excited and surprised,” Avery said. “They had called my mom at work, and she knew before I did.”
Avery’s art teachers say he is very talented and deserving of this honor because he has put so much time and effort into the arts.
“We’ve had him as a student since his freshman year and watched him grow as an artist. It’s been pretty awesome to see him blossom, so to speak,” said Agawam High arts teacher Amber Waters.

“It’s not just a gift. He works very hard at it. He has strived to improve his art since I met him as a freshman. It’s not just talent, it’s diligence. There was hours invested in that drawing,” Waters added.“The school is so proud of him, too,” Florek added. “When Mr. Lemanski made the announcement, (the students) were clapping.”
Lemanski believes that this award is a testament to the strength of the arts program at Agawam High.

“Our arts program is very strong, and I also think that the teachers do a really good job of bringing guest artists in so students can see what artists do and how they get to the finished product,” Lemanski said.

Avery’s drawing will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., among other winners’ artwork from similar competitions throughout the country.

He plans to work after graduation and then apply to Holyoke Community College where he hopes to study the arts.