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Pitman students sweep Congressional Art Competition
First, second and third place go to the Pride
art contest pic1
Pitman High senior Skye Ocaranza took first place in the 10th Congressional District Art Competition with his drawing titled Ramephant, which was illustrated using pen and ink. - photo by Photo Contributed

Pitman High School is home to some of the top artists in the 10th Congressional District, and they have the hardware to show for it after Pride students recently took home the top three spots in the Congressional Art Competition.


Skye Ocaranza, a senior at PHS, came in first place with his drawing titled “Ramephant,” which was illustrated using pen and ink. The drawing features a ram-elephant hybrid, complete with a set of ram horns on its head, two sets of terrifyingly sharp tusks and two pairs of eyes.


“I just added more and more until the elephant had three trunks and four tusks…stuff like that,” said Ocaranza. “I didn’t think I would even win at all, so it’s pretty cool that all three of us are from Pitman.”


Ocaranza placed in the competition alongside his classmates Nairobi Mello, a junior who won the competition last year, and senior Michelle Serena Doo. The three students are all in AP Studio Art at PHS, taught by Larry DeTomasi.


“I had no doubt they can win awards, because they’re super talented kids,” said DeTomasi. “It’s good for them to have that kind of pride.”


To earn second place, Mello entered a self-portrait into the competition, titled “Fluttering Thoughts” and painted with acrylic on canvas. The painting was originally a class project, but Mello was so pleased with the result that she decided to enter it into the competition.


“It was really difficult to do because I don’t like self-portraits and I don’t usually use acrylic,” said Mello. “But, I did it and really liked how it turned out.”


While Ocaranza and Mello entered illustrations into the contest, Doo opted for a photography project, which came in third place. Titled “Beauty in Deception,” Doo glued together miscellaneous items like Q-Tips and hair ties to create a shape, then shined a light on the image and took a photo of the shadow.


The various pieces combine to make a shape that, when in the light, created a shadow that looked like a ballerina mid-dance.


“I don’t see myself as a very creative person, so it was nice to be rewarded for my work,” said Doo. “For all of us to be from Pitman, it boosts our school reputation and I take pride in that because we have a lot of talented students here.”


Ocaranza’s “Ramephant” will represent California’s 10th Congressional District in the Cannon Tunnel, which leads visitors to the U.S. Capitol Building, and will hang alongside the winning entries from every congressional district in the United States for the next year. As the overall winner of the competition, he will be invited to Washington, D.C. this summer to be honored at a reception for winning students at the U.S. Capitol, where the national winner will also be announced. Mello and Doo’s artwork will be hung in Congressman Jeff Denham’s Modesto office.


To view the PHS students’ winning artwork, visit