Cedar Hill Senior Wins District Christmas Card Design Contest

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    Ally Hernandez
    Photo courtesy Cedar Hill ISD

    Sparking Emotion & Inspiring Others With Her Art

    If you ask Allyson Hernandez why she loves being an artist, she’ll give you a simple answer.

    “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always wanted to see my art inspire and spark a positive emotion in everyone that sees it. So, it’s always been my goal to make people smile and feel happy seeing my art,” the Cedar Hill High School senior said.

    And that is exactly what a lot of folks are doing when they see her latest creation. She designed the Cedar Hill School District Christmas card this year.

    Hernandez was the winner of a contest she was told about by her art teacher.

    “When Mrs. (Danielle Grays-) Johnson told us of the contest I knew I had to join. There were many ideas going through my head, but with each idea I felt that there could be something more,” Hernandez said. “It wasn’t until Mrs. Johnson said, ‘Well, I haven’t seen anyone do something with the longhorn.’

    “It then hit me, what if the longhorn became the lovable Saint Nick? I began to work on the sketch and transferred it to my laptop to add the touches I knew would make our longhorn fit the holiday spirit.”

    Thus, her creation was born. And while it’s bringing joy to many, Hernandez remains humble in taking all the credit.

    cartoon Longhorn
    Christmas Card designed by Ally Hernandez

    “I couldn’t have done it without Mrs. Johnson’s help. With every idea that came to my head when first brainstorming of a perfect outcome, I felt that they were good, but was always missing something that could make it great,” she said. “She is one of my favorite teachers and one of the few teachers I will miss once I graduate.”

    Progressing as An Artist

    Gray-Johnson, who has Hernandez in her advanced placement studio art class, said Hernandez will be submitting a digital art portfolio. She praised her prize-winning pupil’s growth just since last year.

    “I can tell how much she’s grown as an artist. She is passionate about her art and takes it very seriously,” she said. “Allyson was a part of our ‘Van’s Crew’ last year. She is one of the students who helped us bring home the $15,000 for the Vans Custom Culture competition.”

    Hernandez admits the project was not a quick creation. But then, she does stay busy, which includes rehearsals for the role of Sandy Cheeks in the school’s production of “SpongeBob The Musical.”

    “In class I was able to get the foundation down in my laptop ready for coloring and rendering. Once I was home, I began to finish what I had started in class. I was lucky enough to finish it and email it to my teacher to turn in with the others,” she said.

    Then the waiting game started

    “I remember how nervous I was waiting for the results. Then, one morning I got an email from Mrs. Johnson to come to her room as soon as possible,” Hernandez said. “That was when she showed me the email saying that my design had been chosen. I was so excited that I had to hold it all in to not look crazy jumping and screaming in the halls.”

    As cool as this project was, it was not the first artistic creation with which she’s left her mark on the school. She’s designed two murals in the theatre costume class of the longhorn, along with a coffee cup. She also painted a thespian unicorn in one of the theatre rooms. She’s also taken second place in a couple previous contests.

    And each one has its own special place, as does this one, she said.

    “With everything I’ve designed over the years it makes my heart fill with excitement because you never know what the next project could be,” she said.

    And, ironically, this is not the first Christmas card she’s designed.

    “I designed one last year for an assignment. We were assigned to create a card to give to someone in your family, a teacher, etc.,” she said. “This was before I had the confidence to use my tablet during class time.

    “I recall making my card’s theme centered around the game that was popular at the time called ‘Among Us’ – giving it a holiday twist. The card I made was just for fun and giggles for my friends and family. But I can still remember how happy I was making it.”
    Hernandez’ other big love is theatre. She joined in the eighth grade, playing Little Orphan Annie in the production of “Annie Jr. The Musical.”

    “Soon after that my range grew from a Brooklyn newsie to my upcoming role as Sandy Cheeks. I have to say out of all my years of being in theatre my favorite role had to be Elizabeth in our one-act performance of ‘Frankenstein,’” she said.

    Hernandez is very active in theatre. She is her troupe’s president, and she helps run the group, alongside her five fellow officers.

    “As my senior year comes to an end soon, I will always remember the fond memories and people I meet along the way. With theatre, we always strive from this quote from Alexander Pope that reads, ‘Act well your part, there honor lies,’” she said.

    Life After High School

    But as much as she loves theatre, it is not her main passion as she prepares to attend college at either the University of North Texas or Oklahoma State. She plans to study graphic art. However, she said what she learned in theatre will help her in that upcoming career.

    “As much as I will miss theatre, I will always use the things I have learned in theatre to help me shine in my art career,” she said. “I have made somewhat of a family with the group of people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. But until I walk across that stage in May 2022, I will shine bright til the end in the theatre.

    “What I want to do as a career is to become either a graphic designer or an illustrator. I know that I will succeed in these fields as I practice every day to better my skills and hopefully shadow some of my favorite companies. Art is in my blood. My family has some talented artists on our tree, and those traits are flowing through me as well.”

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    Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and two granddaughters

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