Oregon High School, with its distinctive “Panther Gallery” near the school’s recently remodeled entrance, hosted this year’s Badger Conference Art Show/Challenge.

With 10 Panther artists representing the school, the team took third place out of 14 teams in this year’s competition, with a pair of first-place winners leading the way.

Competing artists were seniors Sophia Choles and Katelyn Soldatke, junior Payton Urfer, sophomores Kenzie Swangstu, Hailey Pucillo, Phoebe Jeske and Braeden Zeinemann and freshmen Vada Freed, Samantha Derrick and Avery Berens-VanHeerst.

Pucillo scored a First in the Animation/Time Based category with an animation titled, “Walk on the Wild Side,” one of only two works that received a unanimous selection by the judges. Derrick was also awarded a first in the Photography category with a photograph titled, “Winter’s Death Grip.”

In the 2D mixed Media class, Freed won third place and Swangstu received an honorable mention. Urfer and Zeinmann also won honorable mention awards in 3D Mixed Media and Sculpture.

The annual event is a “fun and rewarding experience where high school art students get the opportunity to show and have their work juried by professional artist,” OHS art teacher Michael Derrick wrote the Observer in an email.

The competition included 12 judged categories, with each of the Badger Conference schools able choose a maximum of 10 pieces to be entered. Judges observed and critiqued the works on originality, creativity and technique, with each category awarded first, second and third placements. Those individual rankings are then tallied to determine “Conference Champions.”

Derrick said the annual event gives students and educators the “opportunity to learn from their peers and other area schools’ curriculums.”

“Many students find that such art competitions inspires and motivates them to improve their own artistic skills and aim for higher goals,” he wrote. “Although some people disagree with the use of competitions in the arts, it does reflect the reality of real-life situations.”

The OHS Panther Gallery (open during school hours for viewing) will host a closing reception from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 11, with the awards ceremony slated for 11:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.