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Oakland County gives scholarships to high schoolers

Senior Olivia Shumaker and Oakland County Treasurer Andrew Meisner stand astride Shumakerís painting in the treasurerís office. Photo submitted (click for larger version)
September 26, 2012 - Lake Orion is a town that concentrates on the arts and thanks to the classes at the high school, the Orion Art Center and more, the township has many talented young people well on their way to being artists.

Now the Oakland County is helping Orion youth to that dream in the form of scholarships. Treasurer Andy Meisner started a multimedia art contest that ends with an art show at the Oakland County Treasurer's office every year. The work stays up for one year and gives everyone an opportunity to see it and at the end the art judged the best garners awards.

"It's for any Oakland County Students to participate in," said Lake Orion High School Art Teacher Melissa Wilson. "He actually came to the fine arts council and wanted to do something with the students and their art. He asked us for ideas and I had suggested a contest that gave kids scholarship money and he found sponsors to make that happen."

Sponsors include 5/3 Bank and Community Foundation.

The winners of the contest are awarded between $1,000 and $500 in scholarships. Winners this year included juniors Michael Zielinsky, Thomas Walker, Myka Flint, seniors Olivia Shumaker and graduates Danielle Guldi, Andrea Ventola and Sarah Brennan.

The art contest is incorporated into Wilson's drawing class and consists of using Meisner as a client for the kids projects. This year's requirement was a piece about being fiscally responsible, so according to Wilson the contest had another helpful lesson. The art from this year's contest, which started in 2011, still hangs in the treasurer's office.

"Our art teacher wanted us to do a project designing an advertisement where you're given an idea by a client and you turn that into art for an advertisement," said Shumaker. "My piece was a clock tower made of credit cards, because it's a kind of you-have-to-pay-off-your-debt-or-you'll-run-out-of-time thing. The project itself was a drawing II project we had to do and (Wilson) really promoted the project to her students. If she thought it was good she would ask if she could send it in and I thought why not be able to say 'I got this hung up at the treasurer's office'"

Shumaker won $500 in the contest in which she chose pastels as her medium. She said she was not a fast drawer and very deliberate in her strokes and that pastels offered a way to get more done in a smaller amount of time.

"You can put down a lot of color at a reasonably fast pace and it's good for layering without having to do quite as many strokes as pencils," she said.

Others chose different mediums like photography, colored pencils, computer art and more.

Despite winning an award, Shumaker said she prefers to write and edit rather than draw. While she certainly views it as a hobby, she said it's something she would rather do for her rather than other people.

Despite her modesty, her mother, Annette Shumaker, said the contest offered a lot to the kids who participated.

"We think Olivia is fabulous of course. It's terrific to win an award like that and and it's nice to have someone in the county who does something like this for the kids. They're also thinking about financial literacy.

"Melissa Wilson is such a huge part of that program and she really pushed the kids to be competitive and win."

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