Clayton art students win trip to Italy

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans


North Clayton Middle School eighth-grader, Romelo Goss, and Riverdale High School freshman, Charles Evola, have never been outside the United States, but they will soon be walking around "The Eternal City" -- Rome, Italy.

Goss, 14, and Evola, 15, are two of six winners in the Frank Ski Kids Foundation's 2010 International Art Excursion competition. Winners of the competition will receive a one-week, all-expenses-paid trip to Rome, which will begin on June 6. Goss and Evola were among those announced as winners in an April 30 news release from the foundation.

In addition to seeing Rome, the students will visit Vatican City, a small, one-city country across the Tiber River from Rome.

The local students said they are anxious to see ancient Roman sites, such as the Coliseum, and religious sites, such as Saint Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling painted by Michelangelo.

On Monday, Goss said he was on the verge of tears when he found out he was one of the six winners. "I just want to support my family in any way I can, and I know this is going to be a stepping stone for the foundation of my success as an artist," he said.

"I just want to see everything, because I know I'm going to learn a lot during this trip."

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity of seeing all of these places, and pieces of art, for the first time," added Evola. "I never really got to travel like this before, so I'm pretty excited."

The six winners were chosen April 29, at Pace Academy in Atlanta, at the conclusion of the final round of the competition, where the top 10 finalists had to draw a picture of a statue of a knight in armor. The finalists were chosen from the "hundreds" of students who submitted landscape drawings that were required to be mailed to the foundation for the first round of the competition, according to Foundation President Tanya Rodriguez.

For the landscape portion, Goss drew a black-and-white picture of a stone bridge crossing a river, and Evola drew a mountain range, with an open field and a road laid out before it.

In addition to Goss and Evola, the other winners are: Devin Boykins, from Collins Hill High School, in Suwanee; Naomi Niwano, from Duluth Middle School, Julia O'Gara from The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, and Zhaavier Reeves-El, from the Uplift Humanity Homeschool.

Frank Ski Kids Foundation Executive Director Fashion Hendricks said the judging panel was made up of one representative from each of the sponsors for the trip. She said the sponsors are: Pace Academy, the Nike Store at Lenox Mall, State Farm Insurance Companies, Mist Premium Spring Water, and United Front Media.

Rodriguez said the Nike Store is also providing walking shoes for the winning students to wear while they walk around Rome and Florence.

This is the second year the Frank Ski Kids Foundation has sponsored an art excursion for local students, Rodriguez said. She said she and her husband, V-103 FM D.J. Frank Ski, will lead the trip. She said the foundation took winners from last year's competition to Florence, Italy, in August 2009.

Evola said he has faith in his abilities as an artists, and he held onto that internal faith during the second phase of the competition. But, he added, the process of drawing the picture of the knight was a bit nerve-wracking, because he had to create his artwork in front of the judges, and surrounded by other competing students. "I was confident, but I was a little nervous, too," he said.

Rodriguez said it is important to highlight the arts in a time when school systems are facing budget deficits that raise the threat of cuts to all academic areas. "I like the arts, and one of the first things that tends to get cut are the arts programs," she said. "We're trying to promote art."

Rodriguez said the participants in this year's trip have an opportunity to explore their artistic sides while in Italy. "They'll see the monuments, and then they'll sketch some of the things they saw," she said.

Both Goss and Evola said they have been artists for several years. Evola said he started drawing when he was 4, and Goss said he started when he was in the second grade at E.W. Oliver Elementary School. Both said they plan to pursue careers in art, either as painters, or sculptors.

"I really love to draw people," Goss said. "I just like catching the detail and expressing my emotions through somebody else."

Added Evola: "You know when the drawings have a lot of [straight] lines in them, like in a cartoon? I never liked that type of drawing. It doesn't look real to me."