Essay & Art Contest

Art and Essay Contest Winners Announced

The winners of the Tysons Interfaith Art and Essay Contest have been announced, and are listed below.

Tysons Interfaith (a group of 19 different churches that promote learning, serving and connecting) believed this contest would spread their optimistic world view that comes from faith.  Those values were exhibited in the works submitted in this contest.  Writers and artists expressed how they strengthened relationships with family and friends, took up new hobbies and learned new things, and found joy in the everyday blessings of life that they might have overlooked before the pandemic.

We want to thank our judges, who took the time to review all the works and evaluate their technical merit and creativity and originality.  The judges commented on how difficult their decisions were with so many deserving entries.  Our art judges were Linda Meer, Melanie Kehoss, and Sally Evans.  Our essay judges were Cynthia Clark, Paula McGinnis, and Bob Licitra.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And most of all, thanks to the many people, especially all the young people, who took the time to contemplate their pandemic experiences and express those experiences so beautifully in art and in word.  Congratulations to the following winners of this year’s contest!!


ART  12 and Under:

1st Prize:  Raymond Christiansen, Alexandria

2d Prize:  Mina Liu, McLean

3d Prize:  Annelise Shannon, Arlington


Honorable Mention:

Goldie Christiansen, Alexandria

Leah Daniel, McLean

Olivia Goutay, McLean

Kate Higbee, McLean

Cristian Nied, McLean


ART  13-18:

1st Prize:  Sarah Lewis, Arlington

2d Prize:  Aimee Abraham, McLean

3d Prize:  Maya Pashai, McLean


ART  19 and Over:

1st Prize:  Rachel Short, McLean

2d Prize:  Jyothi Sankuri, Silver Spring

3d Prize:  David Carr, McLean


ESSAY 12 and Under:

1st Prize:  Annelise Shannon, Arlington

2d Prize:  Elaina Wang, McLean

3d Prize:  Akhil Deevi, Tysons


Honorable Mention:

Isha Chakala, Falls Church

Callie Moriarty, Falls Church

Maddie Thoma, Vienna


ESSAY 13-18:

1st Prize:  Mary Johnson, Falls Church

2d Prize:  Mikaela Nowinski, McLean

3d Prize:  Liyah Cha, McLean


Honorable Mention:

Michelle Liu, McLean

Moe Ma Kha Tun, McLean


ESSAY 19 and Over:

1st Prize:  Jeff Yeates, Arlington

2d Prize:  Vinette Bowman, Arlington

3d Prize:  Robyn Reynolds, McLean


A total of 28 prizes and honorable mentions in three age groups were awarded in a ceremony held at Redeemer Lutheran Church in McLean on Sunday, November 7.

“As different faith groups, one thing we all share is optimism and hope for the future, even in difficult circumstances,” said Steve Wickman, President of Tysons Interfaith.  “We were gratified to see essays and art works that portrayed constructive activities like baking, sewing, and pets, and most importantly increased family time and helping others.  We were particularly pleased to see so many young children and teens participate.  Tysons Interfaith appreciates all those who participated, and the efforts of its talented judges in making very difficult decisions on prize awards.  We look forward to doing this again next year.”

All prize winners, with Steve Wickman, President, Tysons Interfaith.


Youth essay winners – Annelise Shannon, Elaina Wang, Akhil Deevi, Isha Chakala, Callie Moriarty, and Maddie Thoma.


Youth art winners – Raymond Christiansen, Mina Liu, Annelise Shannon, Goldie Christiansen, Olivia Goutay, Kate Higbee, and Christian Nied.


Teen essay winners – Mary Johnson, Mikaela Nowinski, Liyah A. Cha, Michelle Liu, Moe Ma Kha Tun.


Teen art winners – Sarah Lewis, Maya Pashai, absent – Aimee Abraham.


Adult essay winners – Jeff Yeates, Vinette Bowman, Robyn Reynolds.


Adult art winners – Rachel Short, Jyothi Sankuri, David Carr.


Winners and family members look on during the awards presentation.


5th Grader Annelise Shannon of Arlington was the only participant that earned prizes in both the essay and art contests.
5th Grader Annelise Shannon of Arlington was the only participant that earned prizes in both the essay and art contests.


Sisters Mina Liu (youth art) and Michelle Liu (teen essay) of McLean each won awards.
Sisters Mina Liu (youth art) and Michelle Liu (teen essay) of McLean each won awards.


All in the family – Raymond Chistiansen (1st place) and his sister Goldie (Honorable Mention) of Alexandria celebrate their youth art awards with their mother and baby brother.


The awards ceremony was covered in  Tysons Patch  and  Sun Gazette.