Bluffton’s Mendoza wins Dale Westcott Memorial award in spite of Covid restrictions

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From staff reports

Bluffton High School student Alejandra Mendoza has won the 14th annual Dale Westcott Memorial Nature Award for 2020. 

Each year the Photography Club of Beaufort awards ribbons and monetary prizes to local high schools students for their work in nature photography. The award is given in memory of Dale Westcott, a club member who was both an educator and an avid nature photographer.

This year, the COVID-19 quarantine presented a multitude of challenges.

The normal deadline is in April, but students at Beaufort County high schools were not attending classes in April, so most were unable to complete their projects. Bluffton High School’s photography teacher, Dennis Vernon, however was on top of the assignment and his students’ photos were printed and matted by the students and ready for the contest in March.

Eventually, the club decided to postpone the contest until the Fall semester, assuming classes would be back on track in six months. Unfortunately COVID-19 did not end as quickly as anticipated, and schools in September were still unable to meet in person for extra curricular classes and print and mat their art.

Not wanting to forgo the award for 2020, the club proceeded to judge the images of Bluffton’s students. As a result, Mendoza won first place for her image “Beyond,” and received a check for $100. Second place was awarded to Kelsey Buck for “Colors Behind the Marsh,” and Third Place was “La Noche Oscura” by Jazmin Ramirez.

“I totally agree with their choices and couldn’t have picked a better student’s work,” Vernon said. Alejandra is one of our most talented art department students.

“Kelsey Buck’s “The Colors Behind the Marsh” earned a perfect score of 5 on her Advanced Placement portfolio “Old Things,” submitted to the College Board last spring. And Jazmin Ramirez’ “La Noche Oscura” is an up-and-coming and talented student with a love of photography, and I will be working with her in the spring of this year.”

Above: Alejandra Mendoza’s “Beyond”

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