DWIGHT — An ear of corn, profile of Abe Lincoln and slice of pumpkin pie are some of the many symbols designed by Dwight Township High School students to represent Illinois during an Easter event at the White House.
Dwight students were selected selected to design a pattern to adorn the Illinois egg on display at the White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
“It was a big responsibility to be asked to represent the school and state. We’re doing it as a group, so everyone put their own style into it,” said senior Faith Roland, one of the student artists.
Ten Dwight high school students were picked for the project by art teacher Patricia Farrell-Levange and English teacher Lindsey Jensen.
Jensen was named 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year by the Illinois State Board of Education. She was contacted by a White House representative and officials with ISBE about the school being selected to design the egg.
“It’s great that this little personal accolade is attracting people to notice Dwight Public Schools,” said Jensen. “I’m not the best teacher in the building or the state — I’m the voice for teachers. Mrs. Farrell-Levange is a testament to that. There’s no way we would be doing this without her. We have amazing kids and our staff is incredible.”
Last month, the group of students brought their lunches into Farrell-Levange’s art room to finalize their designs and make tweaks under their art teacher’s guidance.
“My kids are making me so proud. You can go to any school and find great kids but Dwight students are really talented,” said Farrell-Levange.
Each student hand-sketched a token to represent the prairie state. Some were a given, with nods to Lincoln and state agriculture, but others were a bit more unique — like the state amphibian (the eastern tiger salamander).
“(Jensen) pressed the seniors to take this opportunity as something we could take with us into college,” said Roland. “We all worked together and gave each other advice on how to improve.”
Guidelines from the White House instructed the young artists to follow a specific color palette of gold, green, yellow, pink and blue. After completing their drawings, the class scanned the art into a computer and used a color program to add those hues to the design.
Senior Josh Schumaker said he's thankful the school was given the opportunity to share their talent through the project.
“It means a lot. Our own styles and personalities really stand out. I appreciate being asked to contribute,” said Schumaker.
A bluegill, white-tailed deer, monarch butterfly, gold rush apple and purple violet also graced the design which will be duplicated to create a pattern. The state pattern will cover a 4-by-2 foot egg on display for guests at the White House event.
At the center of the design is an silhouette of the state with the high school mascot, a Trojan head, centered over the town of Dwight.
Dwight Mayor Jared Anderson said the fact that Dwight students were chosen to represent the state is “a great honor.”
“It’s exciting for the residents and rewarding for the kids because of their hard work,” said Anderson. “Their art shows that Illinois is a great place to live in and enjoy, and that it’s an excellent foundation for these kids to grow up in.”
Only those who view the design up close will notice something hidden in the shadow of the popcorn box, on the wing of the butterfly and on the fin of the bluegill.
Each student incorporated their names into their designs, which will be viewed by thousands at the country’s capital on Monday.
The Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House has been a spring tradition in the capital for 140 years. Selected through a lottery, families who attend the event will decorate eggs, listen to stories and play games.