Creative, multitalented and caring—those adjectives describe Hannah Jones, a junior at Mt. Lebanon High School and Benny Hornburger, an eighth-grader at Mellon Middle School. They are the winners of the Mt. Lebanon Community Relations Board’s Unity in the Community Art Contest. Their imaginative winning works reflect both their playful and serious sides.
Sponsored by the Mt. Lebanon Community Relations Board (CRB), the contest challenged students in middle school and high school to design works of art that might discourage prejudice and encourage inclusion. Helping shape Mt. Lebanon into a community that welcomes people of diverse backgrounds has long been a mission of the more than 40-year-old CRB, which launched the contest last spring in response to several hateful incidents that police believe were committed by students.
Both Hannah’s (pictured above) and Benny’s (pictured below) designs have been framed (thank you Create-a-Frame/Handworks) and will be displayed at the library, where they also have been made into coloring sheets available at the circulation desk. Children of any age will enjoy coloring Benny’s design, which looks like a puzzle. Precise colorers or even adults will enjoy Hannah’s more intricate design—and there is an adult coloring group at the library says Hannah’s mother, Dana, who is a children’s librarian there.
“I have had an interest in drawing and painting for as long as I can remember,” says Benny, who lives on Oakwood Drive with his mom, Vonnie, dad, Bob, and twin brother, Charlie. “Hardly a day goes by that I do not create some sketch or doodle.” He also plays baseball and hockey, and when he is not creating art or playing sports, likes hanging out with his friends and having fun with his dog, “B,” a black terrier-lab. Here are a few more clues to Benny, some of which might be surprising, others not. His favorite food is hamburgers and fries; his favorite song is Bennie and the Jets (get it?), by Elton John and his favorite movie is Sandlot. His favorite athlete is Yogi Berra and (sorry, Bucs) his favorite team is the New York Yankees.
Hannah, Roycroft Avenue, is not a twin like Benny but she does have twin sisters, Abby and Maya, who are freshmen at the high school, and she also loves animals—she and her family have four cats. Like Benny, in addition to making art, Hannah is an athlete; she is on the high school track and cross-country teams and loves being outdoors. This past summer, Hannah spent three weeks in Wyoming, where she hiked an average of 12 miles a day and put her artistic talents to work taking beautiful photographs. She also enjoys birding and is an experienced cat sitter. This year she is taking AP art and AP environmental geoscience (not surprising, as her dad, Charles, is a professor of geology at Pitt).
Hannah and Benny were honored by the Community Relations Board at the September 12 Mt. Lebanon Commission meeting.
Thanks to everyone who supported this contest and especially to the winning teenagers, who used their art to remind us that a united, welcoming community is a strong community.