- Associated Press - Saturday, March 11, 2017

PARKSTON, S.D. (AP) - For four days, Parkston third-grader Hayden Mette meticulously created his drawing of a flag he thought best depicted South Dakota.

The drawing was his submission to the Youth Art Month flag competition, open to all K-12 South Dakota students. A student is chosen from each state, and the winning drawing is selected to be created into a flag and flown in New York City and Washington, D.C. for a brief period.

And all of Hayden’s planning and practicing paid off, because last week, the 9-year-old was announced the winner of the state competition through the South Dakota Art Education Association.

The Daily Republic (https://bit.ly/2nfpSbb ) reports there were four entries from Parkston School District as well as many statewide entries. But it was Hayden’s drawing that stood out among the judges.

With a competition theme of Creativity in Culture, Hayden’s flag features parts of the sky and tree from famous The Starry Night painting by Vincent van Gogh, as well as a buffalo, the faces of Mount Rushmore and the state of South Dakota seal.

And each piece of his flag has special meaning, Hayden said. As a fan of buffalos and history, he drew the animal along with the faces of Mount Rushmore - a place he has not yet visited.

But he was inspired by his mother, Colleen Mette, to include scenes from The Starry Night painting, which is her favorite, he said.

The artistry runs in the family, as Mette is also the K-12 art teacher at Parkston School, and the one who informed her students of the competition. Hayden’s grandfather is also an artist, she said.

And Mette - who said she was determined to let him do the project on his own - was surprised when Hayden won, as there was three other “great drawings” from her students also submitted.

“I know he worked really hard and his was really beautiful and so I was happy for him,” she said. “He spent a long time on that.”

Hayden’s flag will first be sent to New York for the National Art Education Association Convention (NAEA), where it will be presented along with the other state winners. From there, Hayden’s flag will travel to Washington, D.C. to be in another presentation at the capital.

The winning students are invited to attend the convention and see their flag during a presentation, but unfortunately Hayden will be unable to attend.

The flag will then be shipped back to South Dakota, and on April 1 the flag will be on display at the Dakota Discovery Museum in Mitchell for the Youth Art Show, and Hayden will be able to keep it.

Hayden is the second student from Parkston to win this honor, after another student won five years ago.

“We’re a small school and we’ve won twice,” Mette said. “That’s really nice.”

And the student’s flag now is hung in the school’s gym. And Hayden has the same plans for his flag. After receiving it in April, Hayden said he wants it to hang in the gym alongside the other student’s flag. This way it can be enjoyed by all the students of Parkston School.

Hayden loves to draw “weird creatures” in his spare time - a recent creation is a half praying mantis and half rat - and he will receive free art supplies for winning the competition.

“I just think of things, and I draw it,” Hayden said.

And Hayden, whose favorite subject in school is art, hopes someday to become an artist, or maybe even an architect.

The flag program is a production of the Council for Art Education, which coordinates the Youth Art Month activities at a national level. It’s through each state flag program that a winning design is chosen for display in the Youth Art Month Museum at the NAEA Convention.

For Mette, she has students actively involved throughout Youth Art Month. This year, she had several student submissions to the Youth Art Show at the Dakota Discovery Museum on Dakota Wesleyan University’s campus. The show, which began Monday, will end April 1 with a closing reception. It’s this event in which Hayden will receive his flag.

The show coincides with Youth Art Month on purpose, promoting the value of art in all children, according to a press release from DWU. And at the show, prizes will be awarded for elementary, middle and high school levels.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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