A first-place award and honor was given to eleventh-grade student, Jessica Bastida, for her painting called “Pencil to Paper”.  Bastida, a student of Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts, received her award with pleasure and pride at the Young Artists Exhibit at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem this past Friday.

Second place was awarded to 12th grader, Samantha Nader, a student at Freedom High School.  Nader received her honor for a sculpture she created called “Marigold”.

Kayli Callahan took the third-place award for her mixed media project called “Mahogany Knot”.  Callahan is also a student of Lehigh Valley Charter High School.

Three other Lehigh Valley students were given honorable mentions for their paintings, sculptures, and drawings.  The Young Artists Exhibit can be visited daily from 11am to 4pm through July 26 in the Banko Family Room Gallery at the Banana Factory.

The Banana Factory’s primary goal is to make the arts accessible to everyone.  Each year they partner with more than 60 schools in The Lehigh Valley to provide arts learning for youth.  One of the programs offered is BananaWORKS.

In BananaWORKS, the arts serve as a catalyst for helping young people prepare for the working world. Students apply for the program and are hired by Team Pennsylvania CareerLink Lehigh Valley. They are responsible for designing, creating and completing the work of art, and they also learn how to build a résumé, attend a job interview and are required to show up for work on time, just like a regular job.

Another program offered by the Banana Factory is B-Smart.  B-Smart is an after school enrichment program that provides a fun and creative learning environment for students of Bethlehem Middle Schools.

All B-Smart classes stress teamwork and the creation of projects from start to finish. The skills that students learn offer them a new and constructive way to problem solve and open up a world of possibilities in their personal lives. Whether it’s the filming of a video, or a group working together to create a mosaic mural, participants discover skills that prove integral to career development, academic achievement and personal growth.

The Lehigh Valley is home to many students who have been awarded and honored for the role they play not only in the classroom but in their communities as well.  Keep up the good work Lehigh Valley students!

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