Abbey Franklin, an eighth grade student in the Magnet Art Program at Southwood Middle School, won the “Best in Show” award for her painting during the 2012 Bromeliad Society International World Bromeliad Conference. She received her engraved crystal trophy the week of Dec. 5 when the awards certificates arrived at the school.
Hosted by the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies, the world conference took place at the Caribe Royal in Orlando from Sept. 24 to 30. The conference is primarily for amateur and commercial growers of bromeliads but an art exhibition featuring adult and student art was part of the event.
Sharon Biddix, a retired art teacher and member of the South Florida Bromeliad Society for the past 12 years explained the significance of the event and the win.
“Every year the Bromeliad Societies all over the United States and other places come to state conferences, but this world-wide conference only comes once every 10 years, so this was a great accomplishment,”
Biddix said. Biddix said that she had never been to a world conference before and that one of the big judges, Dean Fairchild, had seen the student artwork from Southwood and from Palmetto for 10 to 12 years and has been judging the Miami show at Fairchild Gardens every year with 19 other judges from around the state.
“He’s an art lover and he’s just smitten by the talent of these students,” Biddix said. “This magnet program is phenomenal. If you just looked at the artwork and didn’t know it was from a middle school magnet program, you would assume it was adult artwork.
“They use mixed media and are taught to look at things with a creative eye. For the world conference Fairchild requested this talented magnet work because he said no other shows have magnet work like we do on a consecutive basis.”
Franklin, the accomplished young artist, was delighted with the win, but wasn’t expecting it.
“I was shocked,” Franklin said. “I’m really happy. I worked a long time on that piece so I’m really proud of it. I’m happy that I got the award — very surprised, but happy about it. I’ve taken art classes throughout my life and have been in the Southwood Art Magnet since sixth grade. I love to draw flowers and anything with bright colors is pretty much my style.”
Southwood principal Magda Pereira said she is impressed with the young artist and her accomplishment.
“Abbey is one of the many treasures we have at Southwood Middle School,” Pereira said. “Her remarkable talent exemplifies the devotion and passion she has for the arts.”
In the magnet program each grade level is split between two teachers and at mid year they switch students so they have the advantage of the expertise of two art teachers and their curriculum each of the three years they are there. Respected magnet art teachers Jenifer Berse and Leslie McKinley have been Abbey Franklin’s instructors.
Beatriz Llano Scherker, magnet lead teacher at Southwood, commented on the impact the school’s programs have on area youngsters.
“Southwood continues to be a place where students’ dreams can become a reality in an intellectually stimulating, emotionally nurturing, and creative environment,” Llano-Scherker said. “The mission of Southwood Middle School’s Center for the Arts magnet program is to engage the curious and creative student in an intensive visual and performing arts environment.”
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