Neal Communities Sponsors Annual "My Favorite Home" Contest

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Willis Elementary School Students Create Art To Depict Their Favorite Home

Neal Communities recently sponsored its annual “My Favorite Home” art contest at Robert E. Willis Elementary School, located in Country Club East in Lakewood Ranch. Students in all grade levels participated in the program in which they each created an image of a home on paper. The Willis teachers selected the top five for each grade level. Then, a group of community leaders chose the winner for each grade. The collage made by Hannah Coutsolioutsos in Mrs. Flynn's second grade class will appear on the front of the Neal Communities holiday card this year. A photo of all the winners along with Pat and Charlene Neal, art instructor Aaron Cratty, and principal Bill Stenger will be on the back of the card.

“This is one of the highlights of the year. I love seeing the creativity and efforts of these children,” said Neal Communities’ president, Pat Neal. “I was particularly impressed this year with the way the art instructor included computer-aided drafting into the designs. Some of those students have a future in the home building industry!”

Art instructor Aaron Cratty created a detailed lesson plan to incorporate a variety of skills, materials, and academic principles in the project. Neal Communities gave the school $350 to purchase the art supplies for the project. "We were very fortunate that Neal Communities allowed us to participate in the My Favorite Home Design Contest. It was great to see our students making connections between visual art and mathematics. Students discovered how mathematics encompasses more than just formulas and logic, but patterns, proportion, symmetry, and shape. This exhibit encouraged students to see how artistic behaviors are influenced by form and function," commented Cratty.

The detailed lessons included a big idea, an enduring understanding, a benchmark, and a plan for each grade level. For example, the kindergartners created “fairytale homes” with watercolors, pencils, black marking crayons, rubbing plates, and 90 lb paper. Their enduring understanding was, “Understanding the organizational structure of an art form provides a foundation for appreciation of artistic works and respect for creative process”. The fifth graders, however, used MacBooks, printers, engineering paper, and Pixie 2 software while creating their homes. Their enduring understanding was, “The 21st-century skills necessary for success as citizens, workers, and leaders in a global economy are embedded in the study of the arts”.

Because Cratty wanted to showcase all of the students’ work, Neal Communities also donated $500 to create an art gallery in the main entrance. The school was able to purchase 12 frames—two for each grade to make this dream a reality.

The winners were: Toby Schwenk in Mrs. French's kindergarten class, Sean Sugamura in Mrs. Santello's first grade class, Hannah Coutsolioutsos in Mrs. Flynn's second grade class, Emma Correia in Mrs. McGregor's third grade class, Samantha Torino in Mrs. Harkin’s fourth grade class, and Briana Downey in Mrs. Tomlin's fifth grade class.

Neal Communities is recognized for its philanthropy in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Its president, Pat Neal, has received the Legislative Service Award, the Audubon Society Legislative Award, the Award for Meritorious Public Service, The Lakewood Ranch Community Fund Humanitarian of the Year award, and many other awards and recognition for service and philanthropy. Neal Communities is ranked #94 nationally based on sales by BUILDER Magazine, and #1 locally by HBW Inc. based on number of permits issued in 2010 and by MetroStudy and Hanley Wood Market Intelligence based on number of home sales. With over 8,0000 homes built in Southwest Florida, Neal Communities’ honors and accolades include 37 Awards in the 2011 Parade of Homes, 48 Aurora Awards, 5 Best in American Living Awards, and hundreds of local and regional industry awards. For more information, visit:


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Kelsey Wilson
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