Stories » Local 8th Grader Leaves their Mark on LA County Library

Local 8th Grader Leaves their Mark on LA County Library

By: Gabriela Angel  
On your next trip to an LA County Library, be on the lookout for a bubbly bookmark at checkout. Durfee School 8th grader Jenny Wong from El Monte City School District is a winner of the 44th annual LA County Library Bookmark Design Contest. Her marine-themed bookmark was a finalist at the Norwood Library contest, and was then selected by Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Hilda Solis as a grand winner from District 1. 
“I jumped for joy!” said Jenny upon receiving the congratulatory letter. “As time passed and it sank in, I cried.” Overjoyed, she called friends to share the exciting news. Introduced to drawing by a friend, Jenny is a self-taught artist and her winning bookmark symbolizes her self-determination and dedication to her growing craft. Jenny’s bookmark includes a collection of sea creatures like jellyfish, turtles, starfish, and fish. When asked about her inspiration for the design, Jenny pointed to social media, “I was scrolling on the art side of TikTok, and jellyfish stuck out to me because of the colors and design.” 
Jenny credits her teacher Ms. Kara Brown for encouraging her to participate in the contest. Feeling overwhelmed about catching up on school work after returning from a family trip to Vietnam, Ms. Brown suggested Jenny create a design to ease her stress. “I knew Jenny enjoyed drawing and told me that creating art helps her relax,” said Ms. Brown. “I wanted her to experience that she can have fun while doing something that may be perceived as stressful.” Wanting her students to gain confidence in themselves, Ms. Brown motivates them to participate in activities, enter contests, and join new clubs. “They will never know if they like it until they give it a try. They will never win a contest if they don't enter. I truly want all my students to gain confidence in themselves and they do so by finding out who they are by trying something new.”  
Aside from her passion for art, Jenny loves to read, especially mystery and romance. She is part of Durfee’s Millionaire Readers Club, students who have read one million words in a year. She is now closing in on two million words. Jenny said her 7th grade teacher, Ms. Monica Macias, helped her fall back in love with reading. Ms. Macias tries to expose her students to different genres through having a variety of books available in her personal library. “I allow students to read whatever they enjoy, regardless of reading level,” said Ms. Macias. “Once I knew what kinds of books she liked, I would have her venture into specific authors who I thought she would enjoy.” In order to help students discover, or rediscover the joy of reading, Ms.Macias says you need to be a guide. “You must never assume that a student knows what they like to read. You must help guide students to explore possible interests and you must have a lot of patience.”
Initially, Jenny entered the contest for fun, not expecting to win. Now she is a LA County Bookmark Design winner. Like her teacher, she would advocate for her peers to try new things, “Just try your best and whatever happens happens. You never know what’s going to be on the other side, so you might as well just do it,” she explained. Jenny and her family will be honored at a local ceremony by the LA County Library in March to commemorate her artwork.