A budding high school artist admits her first-prize cheque in the Toronto Star's High School Newspaper Awards was the quickest $150 she ever made.
Vandie Bearrs, 17, a Grade 12 Northwestern Secondary School student, took first place at the Star awards earlier this month for her editorial cartoon which appeared in the school's student newspaper, The Northern Voice.
"It took me about two minutes to draw," admitted Vandie, in a recent interview from her Stratford home. "It was the fastest $150 I've ever made."
Though she jokes about her win, it was no small accomplishment. The cartoon, which accompanied an opinion piece on the rising cost of student fees, faced tough competition from high schools across the province.
And Vandie didn't even know she had been entered into the contest - her English teacher Kim McGill, who encouraged her to draw the cartoon, nominated her for the award. She received a plaque at a lunch ceremony and tour at the Star's office in Toronto on June 1.
Though being nominated, and winning, the award was a surprise, being recognized for her artist accomplishments isn't anything new for Vandie.
In Grade 8, she received her school's visual arts award. She has also won first prize at Heritage Days in St. Marys for her sidewalk chalk drawings and worked as an artist's assistant at local Arts Alive summer camps.
But editorial cartooning is new for the young woman who began to draw at age three. She was always interested in art and her parents Trish Bearrs and Alan Giddings saw her talent from an early age.
"Years ago she drew a hand...you could see every little wrinkle in it," said her father, Alan, who accompanied her to Toronto for the recent ceremony.
Though her ultimate goal is to become an animator for Disney, Vandie has been exploring her options, interested in learning more about editorial cartooning and fashion art.
"I want to try pretty much everything I can," she said. "I like to broaden my horizons."
Since her first cartoon, Vandie has submitted more cartoons to the student newspaper. She's also been learning more about art during a co-op placement at the Stratford Festival and hopes to be accepted into the animation program at Sheridan College next year.
The recent recognition has made Vandie one happy young artist. "I was really, really happy," she said, of finding out she had won. "I didn't think that would happen - I've been trying to get my name out for my art. This really helped."
Other Northwestern students also received recognition at the Star awards, including Jessica Dyck, who placed second for reporting, Adam Vanderheide, placing third for illustration and Ian Nuhn, who won third prize for best electronic newspaper layout and design. Dyck and Nuhn placed second in the best electronic newspaper category.