Brittany Hill seventh-grader Julia Tuccillo likes to carry her sketch pad wherever she goes.
Sometimes she likes to draw her favorite subject, anime characters. Other times, Tuccillo just uses her imagination to draw any image of a character that pops into her head.
“I really liked my cousin and he liked to draw,” Tuccillo said. “It looked fun and I started doing it around kindergarten.”
She’s been drawing constantly ever since and even had her sketch pad with her during a surprise assembly in which her exceptional artwork was recognized for the first time Friday.
Tuccillo was one of nine students selected to be a winner of the Bag Your Favorite Book contest, which had students design an original book cover for an existing publication. One first-place entry was selected from each grade level (kindergarten-8th grade) and Price Chopper, the company that held the contest, received more than 11,000 entries from students in the Kansas City area.
Tuccillo’s third-hour language arts class will be awarded a classroom party, which will allow her and her fellow students to eat at any restaurant of her choosing and to see a free movie, all courtesy of Price Chopper. The school library at Brittany Hill also was awarded a $500 donation thanks to Tuccillo’s efforts and she personally received a bag of art supplies and a gift card to Barnes & Noble.
The seventh-grader, who was a transfer student from Visitation School in Kansas City, designed a book cover based on one of her favorite books "Monstrous," which had a drawing of an angel on the front and a rose lying on top of a brick on the back with a brief summary of the book written over the drawing.
“I wanted her wings to be in the picture so I didn’t want it to be just her facing forward,” Tuccillo said of the angel on the front cover. “I wanted her to be facing a different direction. Then on the back there is a rose on a fountain because there was a guy who left her a rose every night.”
At the middle school, the Bag Your Book contest was a part of the coursework in language arts teacher Tiera Shrout’s class. This was a project that Tuccillo embraced as she spent six weeks drawing the book cover using colored pencils and pens.
There was always a feeling among Tuccillo’s peers that she was going to win the contest, Shrout said.
“In my first hour class, every knew you were going to win because they have seen her drawings,” Shrout told Tuccillo. “I used her (book cover) as an example because she was the first one to turn it in. She just worked so diligently on it. When I got the call I was hoping it was (Tuccillo).
“Out of the 148 I have, she was the only one who kept coming up asking me, ‘Has Price Chopper contacted you yet?’”
The company indeed called Shrout, but she couldn’t tell Tuccillo that. She had to keep it a secret. Tuccillo’s father and brother were at the surprise assembly, as well, but they stood behind the bleachers, so Tuccillo couldn’t see them. After a pair of announcements, it was revealed that she was the winner.
“I was kind of scared and really excited at the same time,” Tuccillo said of her name being announced as the winner. “It was a surprise.”
Price Chopper representative and one of the judges of the contest, Kelli Arch, said that Tuccillo’s drawing clearly stood out from the rest.
“We had professional graphic designers come in and help with the final decision,” Arch said. “First we look at the creativity, second the talent and three we look if it represented the book. Her’s was clearly above any other entry.”
Tuccillo said that she plans on entering the contest next year and wants to pursue a career in art. She’s starting to build a name for herself at her school as a talented artist and although none of her classmates have asked for a personalized drawing yet, Shrout has no doubt the requests will be coming in sooner rather than later.
“She is new to this school, so not everyone knows who she is yet,” Shrout said. “I am pretty sure they will start asking her to draw them something once they see what she can do.”