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Students participate in First Annual Holiday Design Contest

MEYERSDALE - For several weeks, a group of Meyersdale Area High School students worked together to create a holiday display through a program sponsored by Somerset Inc. and Laurel Arts. The First Annual Holiday Design Contest was a challenge to area students, who excel in art and trades, to work together to create holiday sculptures that were first displayed during Somerset’s Light-up festivities and will, in the future, be a part of their community’s holiday display.

Meyersdale was among the Somerset County schools chosen to receive a $250 scholarships to design and construct a design of their own. Following Light-up Night, the community had an opportunity to vote for their favorite display via a link through Somerset Inc. The winning team will be awarded an additional $500 People's Choice Scholarship. In total, six schools participated in the program, in addition to Meyersdale, Conemaugh Township, Berlin Brothersvalley, North Star, Rockwood and Somerset also participated. Locally, the MAHS sculpture was sponsored by the Meyersdale Area Merchants Association.

“Our nonprofits have teamed up to create the scholarship, recruit sponsors, and work with the teachers and administrators. This is of course also a partnership with the businesses who have sponsored the schools individually and the prize sponsor, Somerset Trust Company. The inception of the idea actually came from Henry Cook , the President of Somerset Trust Company. The incredible designs were featured in Uptown Somerset until December 2nd and were then moved to Laurel Arts for display until their First Night Event,” explained Regina Coughenour, Somerset Inc. Executive Director.

Work on the sculpture began at the beginning of the school year, as students considered ideas for the “Toy Land” theme. With a budget of $250, students were challenged to create a 4-foot by 8-foot stand alone piece that could be used in future displays. Students considered many designs before deciding on a train featuring bears. During the final days of construction and design, students decided to pay homage to the completion of Route 219 by adding those iconic numbers to the front of the engine. The “Raider Express” also features bears as the conductors and passengers.

Mr. Doug Horne and and Mrs. JoAnn Bolden coordinated the efforts of MAHS students through their tech-ed and art classes. Construction was completed by the following students: Zach Miller, Dylan Sell, Scott Yutzy, Joel Arnold, Natalie Brant, Sarah Brant, Ryley Brady, Carl Crawford, Nadia Minnick, Rhett Weaver, Austin Weimer, Samantha Emerick, and Kirk Eberly participated in the construction. Artwork was completed by Sky Logsdon, Todd Gnagey, Brya Bittinger, Stephen Frampton, Kathryn Kitzmiller, Tori Kline, Sydney Deist, Kylee Murray, Bryce Beal, Maddie Porter and Jacob Baughman.

Bolden said these students worked well together to create an appealing and cohesive design that not only fit within the challenge’s parameters but that would convey a sense of joy in the spirit of Christmas. She said students considered many designs before deciding a train engine would be their design.

“We wanted to do something that would pay homage to the history of the town and the community and the train seemed like the best thing. Then we added the bears as another way to tie into the theme of “Toy Land’,” added Horne.

High school  students spent several weeks working on this project, using a variety of tools and methods to create this stunning holiday display. Both Horne and Bolden helped students build on their established skills in their respective classes, while introducing them to new mediums and methods.

“I think our students really enjoyed working on this project and this is just an example of the many ways our kids work to help their community,” Horne added. “We are proud of what they accomplished, but more importantly, they are proud of what they accomplished. To see their work on display in Somerset and then to know it will be displayed here in Meyersdale is something they can all take pride in.”

District Superintendent Dr. Tracey Karlie acknowledged the project as a wonderful opportunity for students across the county to participate in efforts to shed some holiday spirit and some friendly competition.  “I think our students and advisors did a wonderful job with their creation and hope they learned something from working together as a team”.

“We would like to thank everyone for their support in voting for our display and also thank the Meyersdale Area Merchants’ Association for making this possible. If we should win the challenge that scholarship money will go towards the tech-ed and art programs here at MAHS,” Horne explained.

Voting for the First Annual Holiday Design Contest will conclude December 7. You can vote for the Raider Express by using the following link Please take a moment and help our MAHS students receive the recognition they so richly deserve!

“We are could not be more grateful for the participation of these 6 schools, the hard work and creativity of the students involved, and the generous donation of the business sponsors. These decorations have brought so much joy to the community already. Despite a few hiccups of our first year, we could not be more excited to plan this as an annual addition to our community that we know the community will joyfully anticipate each year,” added Coughenour.


Raider Express

Students working on Raider Express