Not long ago, a plastic tray of watercolors and box of 64 crayons were the most a child could hope for when it came to art supplies.

Now, the spectrum of mediums is far wider -- and Whitehall teachers are urging students to dive right in.

"I want my students to explore them all," said Sarah Hebdo, an art teacher at Rosemore Middle School, voicing a mantra that's shared by art teachers at Whitehall's other schools.

Their efforts can be seen in the quality of their students' artwork, the best of which was recognized May 11 by the Whitehall school board.

Five students, one from each of the district's school buildings, were named 2017 Permanent Art Collection Scholars.

They are Draven Currie, a senior at Whitehall-Yearling High School; Alyssa Graybeal, a seventh-grader at Rosemore Middle School; Martin Campos Jr., a fifth-grader at Beechwood Elementary School; Justin Johnson, a fourth-grader at Etna Road Elementary School; and Javier Ramos, a fifth-grader at Kae Avenue Elementary School.

The framed original artwork by each student will be on display for one year at the district's administrative offices on South Yearling Road, then returned to each student's home school, where it will remain on permanent display.

"I am truly amazed at the talent of these students," Deputy Superintendent Mark Trace said.

Art teachers at each of the district's schools selected one student to be recognized, said Kristy Rothbrust, an art teacher at Kae Avenue.

The district paid to frame each piece of work and to add a brass nameplate identifying it.

Each student also received art supplies from Key Bank, the sponsor of the annual award.

Alyssa's artwork is digital, a piece Rothbrust described as "emoji art."

Using a variety of images based on emojis, such as a cowboy hat, Alyssa created a digital profile of country-music performer Jason Aldean. The completed image then was printed.

She said the idea was inspired by her and her friend's love of country music.

"I just draw whatever is on my mind ... I like (creating) art because I can draw freely, and I'm not judged," Alyssa said.

Currie also mentioned that feeling of freedom.

"I like making abstract art, I can be free with it," he said.

Currie's artwork -- acrylic paint on canvas -- depicts a stack of rocks on a sandy beach.

"It represents balance," he said.

Martin used different-colored Sharpie markers for his piece, depicting an orca underwater below a sunny sky.

"I like sunsets (and) added an ocean," he said.

Javier used pastels to create a closeup image of a dragon's eye.

"I wanted to use a lot of colors in something," he said.

Superintendent Brian Hamler said he was looking forward to having the work on display at the district's offices.

"I'm excited to see what's here," he said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo