Second-grader wins third place in international art contest

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 13, 2016

 Alexandria Simon, 8, of Rochester Hills, stands in front of her school, the Chiquitos Bilingual Montessori in Shelby Township, with her artwork April 7.

Alexandria Simon, 8, of Rochester Hills, stands in front of her school, the Chiquitos Bilingual Montessori in Shelby Township, with her artwork April 7.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — For the first time since the “My Favorite Place in Mexico” international art contest began 10 years ago, a student in the Consulate of Mexico Detroit’s jurisdiction placed in one of the top three slots.

The bold and colorful fiesta scene portrayed by Alexandria Simon, 8, of Rochester Hills, stood out to judges among more than 3,200 entries. She entered the contest through her school, the Chiquitos Bilingual Montessori in Shelby Township.

The contest, facilitated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Institute for Mexicans Abroad and Mexican consulates around the world, was open to children between the ages of 7 and 11 who live in countries other than Mexico. The prompt encouraged children to capture what Mexico means to them.

Six students at the Chiquitos Bilingual Montessori entered the contest and received certificates. Representatives from the Mexican Consulate in Detroit performed a special ceremony at the school to honor them March 22.

At the ceremony, Alexandria received a package of Mexican children’s literature books, a diploma and a painting by Carmen Parra, a famous Mexican artist.

Alexandria’s entry read, “What I like about Mexico is that it has many holidays!”

Her artwork depicts a piñata fiesta, or party. Through bright pastels, Alexandria portrays herself, blindfolded and swinging at a piñata, while friends and loved ones look on.

“I didn’t know anything about Mexico, so I was a little nervous,” Alexandria said of her initial reaction to the contest.

Second- and third-grade students worked on their art pieces during art class. When Alexandria found out that she won third place, it was a surprise to her.

Alexandria’s parents, John and Gina Simon, said they were very proud of their daughter.

Gina, who is originally from Panama, said she enrolled her daughter in the Chiquitos Bilingual Montessori four years ago because it was important to her that Alexandria be bilingual.

“She’s very into the arts,” John said. “She has a very vivid imagination, and she is very creative with some of her stories and different forms of art.”

Alexandria’s artwork is currently on display at the Museo del Caracol — a Mexican history museum translated to “snail museum” because of its unique architecture — in Mexico City. It will travel on tour with the other winning pieces for the rest of the year.

Luly Calleros, co-founder of the Chiquitos Bilingual Montessori, said this was the first year the school entered the contest and that it would continue to do so in the future. She said the Consulate of Mexico in Detroit invited the school to participate.

“Most important for me is how the children feel through art and the way their expression allows for other kids to be motived and inspired,” Calleros said. “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity, so all of them are ready for next year.”

She said she was excited and happy that Alexandria placed third.

The Chiquitos Bilingual Montessori, located at 22 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, offers enrollment for children age 2 1/2 to third-graders and teaches English and Spanish. Calleros said about 100 students of diverse backgrounds attend the school.

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