“Art in the Park” showcases South Walton High School students’ artwork


SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Select students from South Walton High School, along with their friends and family, came together to create murals in Driftwood Estates Park on Saturday morning.

The event, called “Art in the Park,” is an initiative started by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to help beautify communities in Santa Rosa Beach.

Sergeant Mark Wendel, the crime prevention leader for the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, said the amount of kids that showed up to participate in the event was “astronomical.”

“We’ve had nothing but genuine, true, positive vibes going on,” Sgt. Wendel said. “The community’s been out here, the kids have been out here until 9 o’clock at night painting on [the walls]… The community has been so supportive.”

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Around 75 students submitted their art, and the top 25 were chosen by judges.

$500 scholarships will be awarded to the six artists who were ultimately chosen to paint their murals in the park.

South Walton High School visual arts teacher Rhonda McEnany said working to better the community with art is one of the directives with the Florida State Art Standards.

“The kids are learning all about teamwork, getting together, tenacity, working hard and long, and getting the job done,” McEnany said. “It’s just so many wonderful things that they are learning and cooperating with each other.”

Sgt. Wendel said the Cultural Arts Alliance and the Walton County Health Improvement Program helped collaborate to make this event possible.

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Some of the students involved in Saturday’s event said it will be a lifelong memory.

“This is something I could come back with my kids one day and just show off what I did during my high school career,” Rilye Johnson, a South Walton High School student, said. “And I really enjoy painting, so this is fun to me.”

Sgt. Wendel said the artists plan to finish their murals on April 19.

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