FORT BENNING, GA - A dancing peanut in a blue birthday hat won first place in the fifth-grade category at the Plains, Peanuts and a President art contest. The dancing peanut, drawn on postcard-sized paper by Morris R. McBride Elementary School student Michael Lewis, earned the 10-year-old a medal and a handshake from former President Jimmy Carter at the annual Plains Peanuts Festival Parade Sept. 26.

Lewis, one of three Fort Benning students to take home a prize in this year's contest, beat out hundreds of entries from across the state.

There were more than 21,000 entries submitted for 13 categories divided by grade level. The annual contest was held by the Jimmy Carter National Historic Foundation in conjunction with the president's 85th birthday celebration.

The other post winners were Chloe Lippert, a fourth-grader at Edward A. White Elementary School, and Alexa Lyman, a third-grader at the school. Chloe won first place for her category; Alexa took second.

"I was really surprised that I won," said Chloe, 9, who drew a peanut sailing on a Navy boat with a rainbow in the background. "I like creating my own pictures, not just drawing what someone tells me to draw."

Chloe's winning entry has inspired her to think about drawing professionally when she grows up, but she said she has also thought about owning a pet store.

"I love dogs," Chloe said. "I volunteer at an animal shelter downtown every Tuesday."

Alexa, 8, drew a peace-themed postcard to win the runner-up spot for the third-grade category.

"We talked about our ideas in art class. President Carter tried to make peace, so I drew hands reaching out for peace," said Alexa, whose drawing also included American flags in each of the corners, a peanut border and several peace signs to illustrate her idea.

Alexa said her favorite class is art but she doesn't plan on drawing for a living when she gets older.
"I want to work with sea animals," she said. "I love the aquarium."

Michael said he was surprised by his first place win, his first since he began entering art contests.

"I just entered it for fun," he said. "The art had to have peanuts in it so I thought animating a peanut would be better than drawing a town with peanuts in it."

Michael's parents, SGT Robert Lewis, a special agent with the 86th Military Police Detachment, Criminal Investigation Division, and Kristi, said their son has been drawing since he was old enough to hold a pencil.

"We like to say he was born with a pencil in his hand," Kristi said.

Michael said he hopes to become a cartoonist when he grows up.

"I like to trace newspaper comics, like Garfield," he said. "I'm also in a PokAfAmon phase."

Michael's art teacher, Judy Stern, said she had no doubt Michael would win this year.

"I saw his picture and thought it was excellent," said Stern, who encouraged all her fifth-grade art students to participate in the contest. "I've seen the winning artwork up on the Web site from previous years, and they were good, but I thought Michael's was better."

To see the winning artwork, visit

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16