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Writing on the wall turns to cover art

By Ed Brock

Brittney Rhymer says she's been drawing since she could pick up a pencil.

"I used to draw on the walls," the 14-year-old Lovejoy High School student said.

Since then Brittney has refined her talent a great deal, and now it will be displayed on the cover of "Coloring With Our Friend the Sheriff," a coloring book that the Clayton County Sheriff's Office will be using in some of its educational programs. Brittney's sketch is of the statue of a police officer bending to talk to a young boy that stands in front of the Harold R. Banke Justice Center. She drew it and entered it when she was in middle school in a competition among other Clayton County middle school students. She is now in the ninth grade.

"This is the one we thought was most indicative of what the book is about," said sheriff's Sgt. Tina Daniel, Youth Education and Community Services coordinator.

Brittney is the granddaughter of a sheriff's deputy, Charlie Hall Jr., and her uncle Charlie Hall III is currently a captain in the county sheriff's office.

"My mom went crazy (when it was announced at Lovejoy Middle School's honors award ceremony that Brittney's art would be the cover of the book). She was crying and stuff. I was like, it's no big deal," Brittney said.

Like all great artists, Brittney is her own harshest critic and she is still dissatisfied with her winning sketch that was drawn in a school notebook. But the picture spoke to Dep. Chris Storey who administers the sheriff's Project SAFE in the county's middle schools.

"Hers was unique in that you could see it had been torn out of a notebook," Storey said, adding that that characteristic showed the natural skill behind the sketch. "The whole class respected her ability."

Brittney had a simple explanation for how she develops her skills. She likes to draw.

"When I get bored I do it. When I'm happy I do it," Brittney said.

In fact, she wants to pursue her art as a profession along with writing books and poetry.

Daniel said the sheriff's office has used a generic coloring book to hand out to kindergarten students as part of the Youth Education Section that includes the Junior Deputy program that is overseen by Dep. Jeff McCastle who teaches programs to 4th graders. Some of those students have pictures in the book.

This year they decided to have the book designed by the county's elementary school students. They received over 700 submissions of pictures showing various public safety related jobs such as doctors, law enforcement officers and firefighters. Members of Arts Clayton picked the 28 pictures that are inside the book.

"It was interesting to see how kids perceive careers in law enforcement," Daniel said.

Distribution of the new book will begin in October and Clayton County Sheriff Stanley Tuggle said he's proud of his people and the county's school children.

"This has been a great project as far as having participation from all the children," Tuggle said. "It's something everybody had input in, something the kids did themselves and it's going to go to the kids."

The other students who have pictures in the book are Joshua Jones, Clavarious Stark, Ashley Barber, Rachael Blaylock, Joshua Adams, Jason Thomas, Patrick Umeibe,

Dalia Ramos, Kristy Lewis, Devondra Michael, Whitney Rabb, Takia O'Kelly, Carlos Chicos, Justice Russell, Jennifer Herrin, Paul Shalogyan, Belinda Davidson, Javes Calhoun, Lily Handley-Taylor, Jasmine Love, Portia Dorsey, Rashad Hardwick, Danae'l Brinson, Trent Shell, Elvin Chu, Brian Walker, Xavier Bennett, Ladarius Davis and Hector Hernandez.