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South Hills

Whitehall students win Pens Foundation card contest

| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, 12:03 p.m.
Whitehall Elementary fourth-grader Rhorie Cancilla, left, and fifth-grader Rhianna Lavelle show off the designs they sketched for the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation holiday card art contest.
Stephanie Hacke | For the Tribune-Review
Whitehall Elementary fourth-grader Rhorie Cancilla, left, and fifth-grader Rhianna Lavelle show off the designs they sketched for the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation holiday card art contest.

Rhorie Cancilla stared at a picture of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrating a victory with the Stanley Cup.

She envisioned the players as elves and the cup as a Christmas tree. She drew Santa celebrating the victory — though she changed his name to “Stanley” to honor the occasion.

Rhianna Lavelle sketched a picture of a penguin with a Santa hat instead of a helmet and a candy cane in place of a hockey stick. She put him inside an ornament with the words “Peace, Love and Penguins” sketched across the bottom.

Their creative visions resonated with representatives of the hometown hockey club, as both drawings were selected as winners of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation holiday card art contest. The entries by the two Whitehall Elementary students were among 12 total winners.

“It’s really exciting,” said Kate Tortorice, art teacher. “I’ve never had two students win at the same time.”

The foundation asked districts to submit two student-drawn designs for the contest. Tortorice made it an optional assignments for students in all 24 of her classes.

She received many responses and selected those she found to be “super creative” and showing craftsmanship. Director of curriculum Andrea Huffman chose which two cards to submit, and both were named winners.

“I was super excited,” Tortorice said.

Both Rhorie, 9, a fourth-grader, and Rhianna, 11, a fifth-grader, have been drawing for several years. Each was inspired to start by a sibling.

For Rhianna, it was her brother Brady, who once was a winner of the Baldwin-Whitehall holiday card contest.

“He would draw and I would be like, ‘That’s so good,’ and then I would want to do it,” she said.

Rhorie was inspired by watching her sister, Bredyn, draw. Last year, Rhorie won a contest at her previous school, Young Scholars Charter School of Western Pennsylvania, to draw the cover of the school yearbook.

Both girls say their families are big Pens fans. They each won 100 prints of their card and tickets to a game.

The wins were celebrated by the whole school.

Both girls said when they found out, their classmates hugged them and cheered.

“It’s a pretty big deal for the kiddos and the program as a whole at Whitehall,” said Brett Bielewicz, assistant principal.

For the girls, though, the best part, was showing the cards to their families.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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