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Century student's sculpture the best in class for Rethink Recycling contest

"Shoes," by Century High School's Carly Ellis received first place in the Use of Materials category during the Maryland Department of the Environment's 13th annual Rethink Recycling sculpture contest.
"Shoes," by Century High School's Carly Ellis received first place in the Use of Materials category during the Maryland Department of the Environment's 13th annual Rethink Recycling sculpture contest. (Photo by Cassidy Johnson\Baltimore Sun)

Century High School has a tradition of participation, and success, in the annual Rethink Recycling sculpture contest hosted since 2001 by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Century High School student Carly Ellis is familiar with recycling, especially when it comes to bottles, plastic and paper, but not so much with sculpture. In fact, the piece she entered in this year's 13th annual contest was the first sculpture she had ever done.

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It also burnished Century's shining reputation as Ellis was named one of first-place category winners in the contest, which challenges students across the state to create works of art out of discarded items.

Judges Jenna Rayman, a former sculpture contest winner now a student at Maryland Institute College of Art; Valerie Androutsopoulos, owner of Vangel Recycling; Jenny Day, the director of recycling for the Can Manufacturers Institute; and Hillary Miller, deputy director of land management for the MDE, rated the 65 entries from students in 23 schools across Maryland for workmanship, use of materials and creativity.

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"Shoes" was named the best in the Use of Materials category while "Untitled" by Liberty High's John Young was the first-place winner in the People's Choice category.

Both students, as well as the winners in the Creativity category and Workmanship category, received Samsung Galaxy Tablets.

The grand prize winner, Michalea Ballistreri from C. Milton Wright High School in Harford County, received an iPad.

Young used record albums, record album sleeves, cassette tape and wire to make a guitar and amplifier for his winning piece.

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Ellis used a pair of her older sister Mary's battered shoes that Mary had worn while working on the farm, discarded marbles, eyeglasses and an old leather glove.

"I was thinking, 'Little Old Lady [Who Lived] in a Shoe,' then I thought about an old couple, so I made one shoe male and one female," said the junior of her first sculpture after having worked previously in the visual arts of drawing and painting.

Century High art teacher Jeff Sharp said the 10 students in his commercial art class, such as Ellis, are "very skilled."

But in the two weeks they have after being given their assignment to use materials that would have been discarded, they are faced with a unique challenge.

"They really have no idea what they are going to do, because they don't know what they are going to have to work with," Sharp said.

"But once they have the idea — that's the hardest part — once they have that figured out, then it's just executing," he said. "Hers just sort of evolved."

The piece by Ellis, and works by senior Sophia Fornaro, senior Miranda Kelley and junior Coltin Serra were chosen for the MDE contest by getting the most votes by the school's faculty and staff.

Sharp said the school has been represented in the contest "for at least 10 years."

Fornaro won first place in the Workmanship category last year for her use of wire and cassette tapes to depict houses and a tornado in "Oklahoma."

Century High's Amy Elberfeld won first place in the Creativity category in the 2013 contest.

"They must have a really good program," said Adrienne Diaczok, communications and outreach manager for the MDE Office of Communications.

Liberty High's Katie Holmes, Maura Wetzel and Rachel Welsh also submitted works in this year's contest.

"Carroll County always has a good representation for us," said Diaczok.

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