Jihyeon “Elly” Han, an eighth grader at Altamont Grade School, Labette County Unified School District 506, received top honors in the 2023 U.S. Youth Aviation Art Contest.
Han, 13, received first place in the intermediate category.
More than 150 pieces of art from 20 participating states were entered into this year’s art contest, which is sponsored by the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) and the National Aeronautic Association (NAA).
The annual contest is part of an international effort to inspire youth to illustrate the importance of aviation through art. Contest submissions were grouped into three separate age categories for judging, allowing students ranging from 6-17 years of age to compete. The 2023 theme was “Air Sports and the Environment,” which encouraged students to create inspirational artwork showcasing how aviation can be a catalyst to protect the planet.
To qualify for the national contest, all artwork was first submitted to state-level competitions, with the winning entries advancing to the national competition. In Kansas, the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation hosted the contest.
KDOT Aviation received more than 120 art entries. Han placed second in the Kansas intermediate category.
KDOT Aviation will honor nine Kansas students on March 30 at the Kansas Statehouse. Gov. Laura Kelly will meet with the winning artists and each student will receive an award valued at up to $500.
All national winners, including Han, have been submitted for the 2023 International Aviation Contest, which will be judged in June by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
If Han’s name sounds familiar, it is because she has won numerous state and national awards for her art. In fact, her artwork was used to promote National School Bus Safety Week in October after her drawing was named the overall winner of the 2021-2022 National School Bus Safety Poster Contest. She was the first national winner from Kansas.
In June 2022, Han was named the first-place winner in the sixth- through eighth-grade category of the Stride Art Competition. In 2020, she was named the winner of the National ELKS Drug Awareness Poster Contest.
Han has been interested in art since she was a young child, she said. In fact, her mother, Sangyeop Han, was an art teacher at an academy in South Korea before the family moved to the United States.
The 13-year-old doesn't plan to become an artist, but instead wants to keep art as a hobby she can use as a stress reliever.
"I've wanted to be a doctor ever since I was little," she said.
The national winners, including names, what state they are from and their age, are:
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