RTHS student wins congressional art competition


OTTAWA – U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger announced the winner of the 2021 Congressional Art Competition for the 16th District of Illinois.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic which had many schools using in-person and virtual learning, students were able to submit their art entries digitally as well as in person at the congressman’s Ottawa district office. This year, Kinzinger’s office received more than 20 entries.

Kinzinger personally called to share the news with the chosen student: Leslie Rodriguez-Nambo of Rochelle Township High School. Her color pencil portrait titled ‘Sassy’ showcases Rodriguez-Nambo’s exemplary skills and attention to detail.

“As the winning piece, ‘Sassy’ will be displayed in the United States Capitol for a year. Our three honorable mention winners’ work will be displayed in my district offices in Ottawa (Marlen Hueramo, RTHS),  Rockford (Aaliyah Kahuhu, Dekalb) and Watseka (Jazzmyn DeFord, Ottawa).

“On behalf of the 16th District, I’m proud to congratulate Leslie and our three honorable mentions,” Kinzinger said. “We are lucky to have their impressive artwork adorn our walls. A special thank you to all the teachers (and parents) who have adapted during these challenging times of the coronavirus pandemic and continued to encourage their students to participate in this year’s competition. We have such talent in our communities, and I’m grateful to each student who shared their artistic gift with us.”

Rodriguez-Nambo’s work ‘Gemstones’ was a standout at last year’s NIU Art Invitational.

The RTHS Art Program has celebrated much success in the congressional art contest over the past several years. In 2014, Alejandro Escobar’s drawing was the first RTHS piece to hang in the nation’s capitol. Mario Rocha’s work was chosen in 2018 with Alva Valle winning honorable mention, earning a place in Kinzinger’s district office.

A second Valle honorable mention in 2019 was chosen for his local office again. Last year, Marlen Hueramo’s ‘El Loro’ caught the congressman’s eye and has hung in the capitol this last year.

Now in 2021, Rodriguez-Nambo’s ‘Sassy’ will replace Hueramo’s ‘El Loro’ in the capital. Additionally, a new piece of Hueramo’s won honorable mention this year and will hang in Kinzinger’s district office. 

“I am very proud of Leslie, Beth Mock, RTHS art teacher, said. “This year has been a struggle for many of our students and they have missed out on so much of the good.  So this win really showcases the positive that has come from such a trying year. I am grateful to Congressman Kinzinger for continuing to host this competition and the impact it has made on the program and each of our winners.”