Before a recent pep rally, Hobbton High School student Moriah Pate was ready to support her school’s athletes, but she wasn’t expecting for a lot of people to be cheering and clapping just for her.
Congressman David Rouzer made a trip to honor Moriah for being the winner of the 2016 North Carolina 7th Congressional District High School Art Competition. Following the presentation, Moriah said she was excited about the recognition.
“In my artwork, I wanted to put some faces of my closest friends and some people I’ve grown really close to at Hobbton,” Moriah said about her work titled, “Priceless.”
All high school students in the district were encouraged to participate in the contest. Each congressional district in the state held a competition.
“I want to congratulate Moriah because this is a significant achievement,” Rouzer said.
Along with Rouzer, art teacher Jennifer Jackson made comments about Moriah and the contest with the theme, “What I Love About North Carolina.”
“She included some people from Hobbton High School because she thought so much of you guys,” Jackson said to the audience.
Moriah said the people in the work have been the highlight of returning to Hobbton after being home-schooled.
“It was incredible knowing each one,” Moriah said. “Everyone is different and I got to put it all together and tie it into my work.”
Using graphite pencils, colored pencils and blending techniques, it took Moriah a couple of days to complete the work. The artwork was judged by a three-person panel consisting of an arts history teacher at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW); an art gallery owner; and a magazine editor from Wrightsville Beach.
“We had real quality experts evaluate these art pieces,” Rouzer said.
Now, her artwork will displayed in the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. It was referred to as the infamous congressional hallway that connects the house office buildings to the U.S. Capitol.
“We walk down this tunnel every single day,” Rouzer said. “When you walk down this tunnel you see a whole array of artwork on the side, from every single state in the union … every congressional district in the union. The artwork that you see is absolutely remarkable. It shows the amount of talent that we have in this country.”
Pate was awarded with two round trip tickets to Washington, D.C. to attend an exclusive reception inside the U.S. Capitol. She will be one of 13 artists representing North Carolina. During the event Moriah will have the opportunity to meet people from all over the United States.
While standing on stage, Moriah received a certificate of recognition from Rouzer before he spoke to her.
“We’re very proud of you,” Rouzer said to her. “I know your family is proud of you and I absolutely know this school is proud of you.”
Members of Moriah’s family were also present and watched as she received the honor.
“It’s amazing because she’s self-taught for the most part,” said her father Clifford Pate. “She has encouraging friends that have helped her along the way and it’s just super.”
Her mother, Melody Pate, added that she knew something special would happen when Moriah was young.
“She held a pencil in her hand ever since she could (hold one) and she’s been doodling every since,” Melody said.
In the future, Moriah said she would like to be a makeup artist and wants to continue making portraits too. After graduation, the senior plans to become a student at the UNCW for business and Spanish studies.
Col. Tommy Macon, assistant superintendent of Sampson County Schools, alluded to how it’s a special moment for the district.
“We’re so excited and happy that Hobbton High School has one of its own being recognized in D.C.,” Macon said. “It’s a great day.”
The journey to the nation’s capital began after Jackson reviewed a book of Moriah’s sketches and encouraged her to enter the congressional contest. Along with school officials, she’s happy about the accomplishment.
“I’m really proud of her and I hope that she continues to do art,” Jackson said. “I’m sure she will because it’s in her blood. I don’t think she can just drop it.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.