Flushing fifth-grader is finalist in ketchup contest

A talented artist at P.S. 20 The Bowne School in Flushing has made it past roughly 45,000 budding Rembrandts to be one of only 36 finalists in a national design contest for food giant H.J. Heinz Company, featuring cash and other prizes for the winners and their schools.

The company had a saucy idea – the “Heinz Ketchup Creativity Contest” for school kids from first grade to high school seniors to design new artwork for single-serving packets of Heinz Ketchup.

Of the multitude of entries just from New York, Melissa Rueda, a student at the school located at 142-30 Barclay Avenue in Flushing, is one of three fifth-grade finalists.

Her proposed product art shows a smiling bottle of the name-brand ketchup, being held aloft by a crowd of happy french fries.

The entries were judged by artist Burton Morris, whose work became famous when his art was used on the set of the hit-TV sitcom “Friends.” “It’s been an honor to be part of this contest – and very difficult to choose only 36 finalists,” he remarked.

Twelve champs, one from each class level, will have their artwork appear on nearly 20 million of the ubiquitous packets, almost a quarter-million in total.

Each winner also receives a $1,000 prize; their schools each get $1,000 in art supplies and $1,000 worth of Heinz Ketchup.

The winners are to be selected by popular vote on the contest’s Internet web site www.ketchupcreativity.com. Voting closes on Wednesday, March 25; the winners should be notified within a week afterwards.

“We’re all very excited,” said Phyliss Grodofsky Rueda’s art teacher. “Everyone at the school has been contacting friends and family to vote for Melissa,” Grodofsky explained, resulting in nationwide balloting for the talented fifth-grader.

Buzz about the contest has reached as far as Rueda’s parents native Colombia and Israel, where Grodofsky has friends, as well as untold other countries. “We won’t really know until we hear from them,” she said.

It’s certainly no big challenge to spend $1,000 in cash or to pick out $1,000 in art supplies for a school, but what do you do with $1,000 worth of ketchup?

“I don’t know, I’m just an art teacher,” Grodofsky said, “But, we sure have a lot of hamburgers and french fries around here.”


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