For the second time in five years Port St. Joe has a Congressional art winner.


For the second time in five years Port St. Joe has a Congressional art winner.

Every spring the 435 members of the U.S House of Representatives survey their districts for art work from high school students.

A winner is chosen from each district, and their work is displayed in the U.S Capitol for one year.

Port St. Joe Jr. / Sr. High School senior Kristen Bird was picked for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.

The 2nd District consists of Bay, Calhoun, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Jackson, Lafayette, Levy, Liberty, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties, as well as portions of Columbia, Holmes, Jefferson, Leon, and Marion counties.

“It’s honestly really surreal,” Bird said. “Just a couple of years ago, I really wasn’t that good at art. So I have been practicing and drawing, and drawing, and drawing.”

That drive is one of the first things that art teacher Julie Hodges noticed in Bird when first meeting her.

“I could tell that she was very detail oriented and very driven,” Hodges said.

Hodges said she normally picks an artwork to enter in the contest, but this year she switched things up and picked an artist to spotlight.

“I know how talented Kristen is,” Hodges said.

Noting the size of the school compared to others in the district, Hodges was blown away that a student from Port St. Joe has been chosen twice in five years.

“I’m ecstatic and super excited,” said Hodges. “I hope it gives us a little more credibility down here, when we look like we're just hanging out. It is more of a free environment than a lecture class.”

Bird initially missed the phone call from Congressman Neal Dunn informing her that she had won the contest.

“It was like 30 minutes before our band concert and I got the call and missed it,” Bird said. “So I called him right back and they put me straight through to Congressman Neal Dunn who personally told me congratulations and that I had won.”

Bird has now been invited to travel to Washington D.C. to attend a reception for the winning artists and will be provided complementary airfare from Southwest Airlines for herself and on parent.

The young student has never been to the nation’s capitol and is excited to go.

“My parents are actually trying to figure out who is going to get the plane ticket, because they haven’t been either,” Bird said.

The graduating senior will be going to Troy University in the fall on a full scholarship and will be studying forensics and anthropology.

Bird feels that winning the contest is the perfect way to end her high school days.

“It feels awesome, it is sort of like I am going out with a big bang,” Bird said.