Hunters Woods Student Home Models Win Cash Prizes

Hunters Woods Student Home Models Win Cash Prizes

Art students at Hunters Woods Elementary are on a winning streak.

Just a few months after winning a contest for architect home designs, sixth-grade students learned recently that two of their home models were awarded a total of $2,500.

“The kids were in a state of disbelief,” said Lisa Foley, the students’ art teacher at the school. “I wasn’t that surprised because the kids held their own and their models looked as good as the professionals.”

The cash prizes were announced Saturday, July 16, at the Arts/Harmony Hall Regional Center in Maryland, where the seven models by Hunters Woods students went on exhibit and were judged.

Foley, who attended the event, remembers people walking by the student models and saying, “I’d like to live in that.”

“It was pretty darn exciting,” said Foley.

The Round house model — designed by Kelly Kolb and Sara Hoyos, sixth-graders at Hunters Woods — was awarded one of the three top prizes of $2,000. The Mailbox house model, designed by Sara Abruzzo of Hunters Woods, took honorable mention, winning $500.

“None of us expected to win anything because we were the only kids in the competition,” said Abruzzo, who attended the opening exhibit. “It was pretty exciting because we worked on it for a really long time.”

Abruzzo, 12, said the project was a lot of fun to work on and helped her “learn how to work with other people.”

Foley said the prize money will help support the art program at Hunters Woods.

Don Pruett, who volunteered to assist the students for eight weeks as part of the Architecture in School program, said the students consistently surpassed expectations. “Some of the kids are doing work at what I would say is a high-school level,” said Pruett.

When the students submitted their designs for the design contest, he extended his service for an additional two and a half months to help them build the models.

“They took what they learned and took it to a whole new level,” said Pruett, who has been involved in general contracting and architectural design for 20 years.

Earlier this year, about 18 Hunters Woods students in the Architecture in Schools program sponsored by Washington Architectural Foundation competed with professionals and adults to design their personal interpretations of “home.” Students drew their designs, which included homes inspired by the telephone, a stapler, and even a dog.

In May, the contest’s sponsor, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, awarded seven student designs to be made into models, given $800 per design.

Then this month, the seven designs that the students made into models went on an exhibit tour that is scheduled to end in December.

At the end of the tour, the models will be eligible for another award, the people’s choice award, which will be determined by viewers that vote online at or by viewers while on tour at the galleries. In addition, the models will be auctioned off at the end of the exhibit tour to raise money for low-income housing.

— Jason Hartke