An unknown man wearing a red shirt holds a gold nugget in his hands while kneeling by a river. The river flows from the mountains through a grassy field to the man waiting on the shore.
Bel Air Elementary fifth-grader Ricky Johnson won the River of Words essay and art contest with his drawing of a river flowing from the mountains. The theme for the contest was "Watersheds."
Photo by Jim Blaylock
It's a scene that was created from the imagination of Bel Air Elementary School fifth-grader Ricky Johnson, whose artwork recently made him a state finalist for the 2005 River of Words art and poetry contest.
River of Words is a nonprofit group that promotes literacy and environmental awareness in children. Bel Air Elementary participated in the organization's annual contest for the first time this year. Ricky is the school's first state finalist.
One of 16 Georgia finalists for this year, Ricky joins such previous Columbia County finalists as Anna Sophia Wendorf of Evans High School and Keith Goldberg of Evans Elementary School.
"I wrote a poem for the contest that I thought was supposed to be about a river," Ricky said. "Then I made the picture based on the poem."
Titled Oh Beautiful River, Ricky's poem won't be included with his artwork for River of Words, which produces a booklet of contest winners each year and makes it available on its Web site - www.riverofwords.org. However, his poem will be included in an anthology published by Creative Communications Inc. called A Celebration of Young Poets, along with six other pupils at Bel Air Elementary.
Although happy to have won, Ricky admitted to being on edge about a speech he must give at an awards ceremony on May 22 at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
"I'm supposed to describe my picture," he said. "I'm a little nervous. I've never spoken in front of a crowd before."
Only a handful of his classmates know about his victory, he said, adding, "I don't want to brag."
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