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Visitation students art nets money for shoes


Juan Garcia-Reynosos watermelon picture wins spot on ag calendar

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Visitation Catholic School fifth grader Juan Garcia-Reynosos art was selected out of almost 1,500 entries for an annual calendar produced by the Oregon Agricultural in the Classroom Foundation. Juan (center) was honored at a ceremony at the Oregon State Fair with his teacher, Elizabeth Sahlfeld (left).Juan Garcia-Reynoso wanted to win $50 for new school shoes, so he took a chance.

But when the Visitation Catholic School fifth-grader found out his watermelon drawing was selected for the annual calendar produced by Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation, he was surprised. He won the money — and one of 13 coveted calendar slots.

With four siblings, Garcia-Reynoso knew the back-to-school shopping budget would be a little tight for his family this year, so with his winnings, he bought orange-and-black Adidas.

Garcia-Reynoso’s drawing of True Love Oregon Watermelons was selected out of almost 1,500 entries statewide.

He entered the contest in the spring at the encouragement of Elizabeth Sahlfeld, a fourth-grade teacher at Forest Grove’s Visitation school.

Recently, he was honored at a ceremony at the Oregon State Fair.

“I wanted to win a contest; I wanted to feel proud,” said Garcia-Reynoso, now a fifth-grader. “My family thought I was joking, but when I when I showed them the certificate, everybody was really happy and proud of me.”

Each year, Sahlfeld encourages her students to enter the contest. After more than a decade of her students entering, Sahlfeld has seen two consecutive winners — Juan Garcia-Reynoso this year and Thomas Finegan last year.

Finegan drew a picture of his dad operating a combine.

At Visitation, fourth-graders learn about Oregon history, Sahlfeld said, so she likes to give kids a chance to “express things they’ve learned in different areas, and to give all of them a chance to succeed in what they’re best at.”

Sahlfeld also believes in the benefits of entering contests. “They set standards to achieve and set goals — that’s what life is all about,” she said. “And it’s okay not to win. You put it out there and you tried something. That’s part of growing.”

She was pleased with Garcia-Reynoso’s efforts.

“Juan is a genuine good friend, and he works very hard to get his work done on time and do his best,” Sahlfeld said.

Garcia-Reynoso said he receives encouragement from his teachers and family members to pursue art. “My parents always tell me to do my art assignments the best I can,” said Garcia-Reynoso, who likes to draw cars, trucks and houses.

He said his mom is really good at coloring and drawing, and his dad likes to draw after getting home from his day job transporting vegetables to stores.

At the state fair in Salem, he got to spend the whole day with his family, and gave a speech about watermelons, which “grow in Hermiston and are sweet and colorful and good.”

He’s looking forward to next August when he flips the calendar to his picture, which will be extra exciting because it’s his dad’s birthday month.