As an aspiring artist, Mark Roelofs has discovered he has an eye for detail and a "God-given gift" to translate what he sees into compelling images.
"I'm a visual visual artist," he said, "and my God-given gift is to be able to perceive things in ways others may not."
Last semester, Roelofs enrolled in Drawing I, his first ever art class, and the quality of his work has earned his nomination as Fine Arts Student of the Week.
"Drawing I students must put in a good deal of technical discipline before creative leaps to drawing can happen," his instructor Elsa Carlson said in making the nomination.
"Mark has been more than willing and more than able in finding repeated solutions to spatial problems and in putting in the daily classroom grind of drawing necessary to develop more advanced skills," she said.
"His personal work discipline, ability for self-direction and his efforts to achieve a quality result on any assignment -- major or minor -- makes him deserving as student of the week distinction," she added.
The proof of Roelofs' artistic achievements can be seen in the hallway exhibit near the principal's office, where several pieces are on display.
Collectively, they demonstrate Roelofs' approach as a beginning artist, "exploring lots of different things in visual arts," from realism to abstraction to a Salvador Dali-like surrealism.
He said he prefers working in pencil and charcoal, but his work demonstrates a knack for color as well.
"I like to work in color if I can do it all in vibrant colors, but I prefer pencil and charcoal black and white (drawings) for the subtleties," he said, "juxtaposing reality with the surreal."
He is enrolled this semester in Basic Design, continuing his artistic pursuits that he hopes will one day lead to a career as an architect, Roelofs said.
But his greatest artistic achievement so far, he said, occurred when he was admitted to the A Cappella Choir as a sophomore, an honor normally reserved for juniors and seniors.
"It was a stroke of luck," he said about his choir admission. "I wasn't on the original list, but I worked with (Choir Director Mike Smith) during the summer and he decided to put me in.
"I'd like to be the president of the choir next year but that's up to my fellow choir members," he added. "I've been campaigning since last year."
When he's not in school, Roelofs holds a part-time job at a clothing store in the mall and is involved with a youth leadership group at his church.
"Regardless of what happens, music and art at least will be a lifelong hobby," he said. "It's a way to express myself, and if I can make something of it, that would be wonderful."
Jenny Sullivan, senior, Fifth Street Journal: She authored four stories in the January edition of the Journal, according to the newspaper's adviser.
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