VERGENNES — Vergennes Union Elementary School fourth-grader Kathryn Wyckoff has always loved to read, write and paint, and for the past year or so has worn a feather in her hair.
Thanks to those language and artistic skills, Kathryn now has a feather in her cap, too.
Kathryn, a 10-year-old Panton resident, just won a statewide student poster contest sponsored by the Federal Women’s Program Council of Vermont.
The assignment for all Vermont fourth-, fifth and sixth-graders was to highlight a famous woman in history and describe how that person influenced them.
The combination of Kathryn’s water-color picture of musician Lady Gaga and her accompanying essay made her poster the winner, said women’s council president Vicki Wells. Wells was in Vergennes on Thursday to present Kathryn a certificate and dish out celebratory ice cream to Kathryn and her smiling VUES classmates.
“We really enjoyed the way she did the picture. It was different. And the write-up was very good,” said Wells, who helped with the judging. “We just thought it went together well.”
Kathryn said she was already a Lady Gaga fan and liked her style when her teacher, Pam Dodge, introduced the contest to the class. She also knew the singer had done charity work and spoken out on behalf of those who need support, and learned more when she started researching.
“I wanted to do Lady Gaga because I love her music and she did many good things when she was older, like this age, and when she was younger,” Kathryn said. “She supports seven charities, and she stands up for people.”
The essay on her poster, which was turned into bookmarks that will be distributed statewide, reads:
“Unusual, different, talented and epic are some words that describe Lada Gaga. Lady Gaga also does many great things including supporting seven charities. One other great thing Lady Gaga does is give away free VIP tickets for people who help the poor. I really like Lady Gaga, because when she was young she was just like me. When she was in elementary school she sometimes felt different just like me. I also absolutely adore her music.”
Kathryn’s mother, Suzanne Wyckoff, agreed that Kathryn relates to Lady Gaga on a personal level. Although she gets along well with her peers, probably not all of them spend as much time with science fiction and fantasy books, paintbrushes and learning piano rather than a television.
“She’s got a group of friends. A lot of them swim and do other things, but she chooses not to. She enjoys more sitting and reading a book for an hour or two on her own. And she has her own style. She wears her own kind of jewelry ... She’s had that feather in her hair for, I think, a year. She likes to wear more black ... than other kids,” said Wyckoff, a graphic designer who encouraged her daughter’s artistic bent. “She seems really proud being her own self.”
Kathryn, whose favorite school subject is reading and has recently picked up “The Hunger Games,” said she admired and identified with the fact that Lady Gaga went her own way with confidence even if she, when younger, was not exactly like her peers.
“She was different from other people. She was unique and not just a regular person,” Kathryn said. “She just stood up and just dealt with it.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.