Budding artists surprised as winners of Blast Off with a Healthy School Breakfast art contest

First-grader Nidarshani Chinthagunta gasped and her eyes widened as a bright turquoise bike adorned with white balloons was wheeled into the T.H. Rogers conference room where she stood sandwiched between her mother and school principal.

Grabbing the 20-inch Titan Tomcat by the seat and handlebars, she carefully eyed the new bike as she whispered a shy, “thank you.”

Nidarshani was one of two grand prize winners in the district’s “Blast Off with a Healthy School Breakfast” art contest held in honor of National School Breakfast Week in March.

More than 60 students submitted original artwork using the breakfast theme. A panel of judges from the district’s Nutrition Services and Fine Arts departments selected the top winners at the elementary and secondary levels.

ART WINNER.mp4 from Houston ISD on Vimeo.

“It’s important for us to coach and teach our kids early the importance of good nutrition so those good habits stay with them their entire lives,” Nutrition Services Senior Operations Manager Keith Lewis said.

McReynolds Middle School eighth grader Savannah Gallegos won the top prize for the secondary level. The budding artist, who loves strawberries for breakfast, created a poster depicting her favorite fruit bursting with flavor under a gushing stream of strawberry-flavored milk.

“I didn’t expect to win,” Savanna said. “I was going for something aesthetic and used my grandma’s kitchen as the background for the explosion of strawberries.”

The 13-year-old virtual learning student was presented with an iPad mini outside her home.

“We were so excited for Savannah,” McReynolds Principal Jasmine Giron said. “We are glad to participate in competitions that teach our students that a healthy breakfast will help them perform better in class.”

Back at T.H. Rogers, Nidarshani eagerly described her artwork, which featured a self-portrait of the young girl eating a healthy breakfast in her school cafeteria alongside an astronaut and rocket blasting off into space.

“Breakfast is yummy to eat!” she said, noting that she loved eating Indian food breakfast dishes. “If we don’t have breakfast, we can’t answer the questions our teachers ask.”

Nidarshani also is a virtual student this year.

T.H. Rogers School Principal Tiffany Chenier said she was proud of Nidarshani and exited to see so many students learning about and understanding the importance of health and nutrition.

“We know art is important in spreading that message,” Chenier said.

Two honorable mentions — one each for the primary and secondary levels — also were awarded:

  • Jenna Mokanino, 5th Grade, De Chaumes Elementary School
  • Lilibeth Martinez, 8th Grade, Hartman Middle School