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It’s True

Meet the Best in Show Winner

July 2024

by Laura Emery, Staff Writer

The 22nd annual Cooperative Living Youth Art Contest Best in Show winner is True, daughter of Peter and Melissa Gleich of Lexington, Va.

For the 2024 contest, kindergarten through fifth grade students were tasked with portraying visual interpretations of the theme, “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.” The winning entry was chosen from a wide variety of submissions by young artists in Virginia and Maryland.

True’s winning entry was an artistic depiction of her desire to become a mother when she grows up. Her artwork was a meticulously drawn image of an older version of herself, tenderly holding a sleeping baby over her shoulder.

“Being a mother is an important job because you get to raise your children to know God and to be good people when they grow up,” 12-year-old True explains.

“The judges were very impressed with the emotion conveyed in the image,” says Cooperative Living Editor Gregg MacDonald.

When notified that she had won the contest’s top honors, True says she was shocked and excited. “I said, ‘What??’” she says with a giggle.

First place in each category received a $25 cash prize, while True’s Best in Show work earned her a $100 prize. A rising sixth grade homeschooler, True lives with her family on a historic farm served by BARC Electric Cooperative. She spends her days immersed in schoolwork, riding her horse, drawing, or tending to her pet lamb, “Little Debbie.” True says her favorite book to read is the Bible, and that she also enjoys playing the mandolin and gardening.

True created her artwork over several weeks using colored pencils. “I want to be a mother when I grow up because I love babies and taking care of them,” she says. “I had a photo of myself that I had posed for, and I used that as inspiration. I just tried to make myself look older in the drawing.”

Her parents were touched when they learned their daughter’s artwork won. “We’re really honored that she is being recognized,” her mother, Melissa, says. “When True first said she was going to choose being a mom as her theme, I was thinking something more career-minded would probably win. Because being a [stay-at-home] mother is not always recognized as a noble choice to make. But, ultimately, no matter what your calling, if you love God and glorify him in what you choose to do, all the other things will fall into place. We’re proud of her for following the desires of her heart in choosing what to draw.”

Peter and Melissa describe their daughter as having “a genuinely sweet heart” and say she loves caring for others.

Cooperative Living started the Youth Art Contest in 2003 to encourage youthful creativity and give young artists the opportunity to display their talents to the magazine’s monthly readers, today totaling 1.8 million.

On behalf of the magazine staff, MacDonald says the judges were impressed with the overall imagination and talent in this year’s contest. “There were so many thoughtful submissions depicting popular career choices, such as lawyer, artist, doctor, nurse, scientist and teacher. We also had entries for a zookeeper, barrel racer, preacher and hotel manager.”

MacDonald says, “To all our 2024 Youth Art Contest contestants, thank you for taking the time to share your artistic talent with us!”