Two student artists from Cedar Valley Middle School took first and second place for their entries in the Youth for Human Rights National Art Contest. Ella Giard, seventh-grade, placed first, and Ajay Chalil, sixth-grade, placed second.

The Youth for Human Rights organization encourages youth to explore the concept of human rights and to advocate for tolerance and peace. Popular vote on the organization’s social media decided the winning artists. Voters liked the art that they felt best reflected human rights.

“I wanted to represent as many people as possible, no matter what religion, gender, race, or ability, everyone deserves love,” said Ella. “My favorite part of the piece is the hands, I’m currently learning American Sign Language, and I knew I wanted to incorporate that into my art.”

Ajay, who placed second, said, “When I heard the topic of human rights, I pictured someone who was a slave running towards their freedom.”

“In class, we have been discussing why people create art. Art gives people a powerful platform to speak out, and the contest was a wonderful opportunity for students to realize they can communicate through their art,” said Art Teacher LouAnn Covington. “I’m so proud of both Ella and Ajay for creating such powerful and meaningful artwork.”

Winning entries by Ella Girard, first place (left), Ajay Chalil, second place (right)

Winning entries by Ella Giard, first place (left), Ajay Chalil, second place (right)


Cedar Valley art student winner headshots

Ella Giard (left), Ajay Chalil (right)