11-year-old wins First Night button contest

CARLISLE, PA (August 26, 2013, The Sentinel) - Isabella Greene wasn't so sure about her chances of winning First Night Carlisle's button contest after she saw some of the entries created by other students. 

Her art teacher, however, made a prediction that Greene's work would be the winner.

She was right.

The 11-year old Carlisle girl's colored pencil and marker drawing of a family watching fireworks explode over a cityscape stood out from among from among 100 other entries in the eyes of the judges.

The contest, sponsored by Carlisle Regional Medical Center, was open to all elementary and middle school-aged children, with the winning button to be used for Carlisle's New Year's Eve celebration. As the contest winner, Greene received a $150 gift certificate for a summer children's art camp at Carlisle Arts Learning Center.

E.K. Weitzel, chairman of the board of directors for First Night Carlisle, said entries came from Big Spring, Carlisle, Cumberland Valley and South Middleton school districts as well as from students at St. Patrick's Elementary and homeschooled students. A committee frist narrowed the entries down to 10 top choices. Then, the First Night board narrowed it first to five then to three before voting on the winner.

Weitzel said the colors, the buildings and the use of the theme, "Lite Up the Night," stood out in Greene's work. The board was drawn to the landscape with the white lights shining through building windows and to the family standing in the foreground of the drawing.

"We always like to have people in the picutre - children, adults, whatever - attending First Night," Weitzel said.

Greene was a student at Hamilton Elementary when she submitted the drawing, but will be heading to Wilson Middle School this week.

Greene said she had some ideas from her teacher and her mother, Jennifer Major. She tried those, but then started thinking about a cityscape with people watching out over it. Over the course of two and a half days, she worked out the lettering and the bright colors to her satisfaction.

But, as students tend to do, she forgot to give it to her teacher to turn in to the First Night committee. When she did, the art teacher had an idea. She suggested Greene outline parts of the work with a Sharpie marker to make it stand out.

She was in Florida with her father when Major called to let her know she won the contest. Major said her daughter started screaming and crying because she couldn't believe she had won. 

"I was so excited," Greene admitted.

Greene said she would like to be an artist. She's already collecting items in a portfolio and has been taking classes from Nancy Stamm, who owns her own art gallery in Carlise, to learn techniques for sketching and painting.

Her work will be featured on buttons and posters as First Night Carlisle approaches at the end of the year, but, Greene said, she won't get tired of seeing her artwork.

"I'm so excited for her," Major said. "It's wonderful."