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Clayton students shine in Scott’s art competition

Fayette County High School sophomore Shrooq Afifi (second from left) was recognized by Congressman David Scott (D-Ga.), state Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) and representatives of Savannah College of Art and Design and the Art Institute of Atlanta for winning the U.S. congressman's annual art competition Saturday.

Fayette County High School sophomore Shrooq Afifi (second from left) was recognized by Congressman David Scott (D-Ga.), state Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) and representatives of Savannah College of Art and Design and the Art Institute of Atlanta for winning the U.S. congressman's annual art competition Saturday.

— Hundreds of congressmen, staffers and even President Barack Obama will walk past a watercolor painting of a young girl surrounded by butterflies in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. over the next year.

What they may not know is that it was painted by a first-generation Egyptian-American from the Southern Crescent — at least they won’t know that until Congressman David Scott (D-Georgia) proudly tells them about it.

Fayetteville resident Shrooq Afifi, 15, will be the artist the congressman boasts about. The Fayette County High School sophomore’s painting, titled “The Painted Sky,” was named the first-place winner in Scott’s 2013 Thirteenth Congressional District Art Competition at the Arts Clayton Gallery in Jonesboro Saturday.

The painting will now be hung in the Capitol for one year, beginning this summer. Afifi also has scholarship offers of $3,000 per year from the Savannah College of Art and Design or a total of $10,000 from the Art Institute of Atlanta.

“I’m so excited — I would have been happy with fifth place so I’m really excited to have first place,” said Afifi, who only became interested in art through Japanese manga comic books when she was 11.

Southern Crescent students fared well in this year’s art competition. In addition to Afifi’s first-place finish, three Clayton County students also finished in the top five. Charles R. Drew High School senior Tam Huynh and Mt. Zion Magnet High School student Andrew Ferris finished in second and fourth places, respectively. Mundy’s Mill High School student Montavious Whiters finished in fifth place.

“Every single one of our contestants and participants who poured their talent out for us to see — who let their light shine for us to see — just because they did that, they are winners,” Scott said.

Huynh, 19, received a $5,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta and his photograph, titled “The Things,” will hang in Scott’s Washington D.C. office for the next year.

“It’s going to be exciting because I didn’t expect to win anything,” he said.

Ferris received a $500 scholarship to the Art Institute and his painting, titled “Do Tell,” will hang in Scott’s Jonesboro office for the next year.

Whiters’ painting, entitled “Stepping Out,” will hang in Scott’s Smyrna office for the next 12 months.

Scott told attendees at the competition’s awards ceremony that the story of the artists was the kind of positive information that gets lost in a sea of stories about young people behaving badly and sometimes going to jail.

“This is the kind of stuff we want to be known for in our communities,” Scott said. “This is a great story.”