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Fish affinity wins local boy national art contest

May 16, 1999

James KnableBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

There's nothing fishy about James Knable's success.

The 9-year-old Lincolnshire Elementary School student earned recognition in a national contest when he drew a poster of a striped bass and wrote a paper about the fish.

He was separately awarded a scholarship to attend a one-week program at Fairview Outdoor School through Maryland Summer Centers for Gifted and Talented Students.

Knable was home-schooled until January, and his teacher at Lincolnshire said the fourth-grader is doing very well.

"He's very well-rounded socially and academically," said Tyler Newcomer. "He works very hard. He accepts almost any task."

The boy's mother, Tracy Knable, searched the Internet for student contests and discovered The Wildlife Forever State Fish Art Contest. She suggested it to Newcomer as a class project.


Although every student had the opportunity, Knable was the only one who entered, Newcomer said.

The contest required a theme paper and artwork calling attention to the artist's state fish. Maryland's fish is the striped bass, also known as rockfish.

With a little help from Newcomer and art teacher Debbie Lesher, Knable researched his subject and sketched its scales, fins and tail. He drew it with a gaping mouth, almost as if reaching for a hook.

"I like to fish with my dad," he said. His father, James Knable, has a doctorate in education and is retired from the Maryland Correctional Institute where he was a principal.

The 150 contest winners were announced April 29. Knable won for the fourth- to sixth-grade age group in Maryland. His work will be displayed at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minn., from June 3 to 6.

"The look on his face when he saw his name on the list of winners will be a moment that I will treasure," said Tracy Knable. "I think this was an excellent way to combine art, education, love for the outdoors and the thrill of a contest."

She is trying to raise enough money to take her son to the exhibit and participate in activities planned there. "The experience thus far has been nothing short of spectacular for James," she said.

Newcomer attributes the students' success to his life at home. Knable helped turn the teacher into a home-schooling advocate, he said.

"He's very lucky to have parents that are so supportive," Newcomer said. "They push him but they are very understanding of his limits."

Knable said his career goals vary from biologist to chemist to baseball player. He thought the contest would be fun, but he doesn't consider himself an artist.

"I like to draw," he said. "It's not exactly a real talented thing I do."

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