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Millcreek Journal

Churchill Jr. High student winner in statewide bookmark design contest

Feb 24, 2021 12:43PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Josie Callahan of East Millcreek loves that her winning bookmark design is on bookmarks in her school library at Churchill Jr. High. (Photo courtesy Julie Callahan)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Churchill Jr. High student Josie Callahan sees something great when she goes to her school library—professionally printed bookmarks featuring her original artwork. Callahan won her age division in the annual “Make Your Mark” bookmark contest sponsored by Utah college savings plan my529. 

“Last fall I saw the contest advertised and thought, ‘I like to draw,’ so I gave it a try. I didn’t really tell anyone I was entering because it didn’t seem like a big deal,” Josie said. 

Josie has loved to draw for as long as she can remember, and has a big collection of comic books and graphic novels. She’s entered Reflections in the past and won a UTA student design contest. 

Each year, two winning bookmark designs are selected from each age group. The winners’ designs are made into real bookmarks. Winners also get a $1,000 scholarship to open a my529 college savings fund.  

My529 is Utah’s official nonprofit educational savings plan. Accounts are free to open, and there is no minimum deposit or account balance. 

“The ‘Make Your Mark’ contest [raises] awareness about preparing for future higher education costs while promoting art, reading and postsecondary education,” wrote marketing director Bryn Ramjoue in a press release announcing the winners. 

“The contest provides a way for schools, students and parents to become aware of my529. The earlier we start saving, the longer the savings have to add up,” Ramjoue said. 

Josie’s entry is titled “Explore New Worlds.” It juxtaposed the seemingly “quiet” activity of reading with what readers might be experiencing in their minds as they discover new ideas, people and stories. 

“Josie’s design was praised by judge David Damschen, Utah State Treasurer, for its ‘sense of security, happiness, comfort and fascination’ contrasted with the ‘dazzling scene of endless possibilities for discovery and adventure,’” Ramjoue wrote. 

Josie said that was right on with what she was trying to express. 

“I find that a lot of people talk about books as if they’re reading and going to a different world. There’s the theme of taking your mind to a different place. I thought, ‘Why not do that?’ So I did some basic sketches, and after a while I landed on one I liked and stuck with it,” Josie said. 

Josie’s skills have been improved with art classes at school and some summer classes at the Art Institute in Salt Lake. Those classes taught her techniques for hand drawing, lines and color. But she’s a self-taught digital artist, which is the medium she used to produce her entry. 

“I created my artwork with the program Procreate on my iPad, and used my Apple pencil to draw. It’s a really good drawing program. I haven’t taken any digital art classes—just what I’ve learned using the program and on the internet,” Josie said. 

Josie’s talents go beyond visual arts. She also plays the violin and entered an original composition in a past Reflections contest. But drawing is her main interest. These days her style is influenced by the graphic novels and comic books she reads. 

“She’s always loved drawing—it’s her hobby. She’s got an Instagram account and has some amazing work posted there,” said her mom Julie Callahan. 

Josie insists her mom has to love her work because…well, she’s her mom. But as one of only two winners in the seventh- and eighth-grade age group, it’s obvious that her mom isn’t her only fan. 

“When we got the phone call that I had won, my mom had just picked me up from school. We were pretty excited. For winning I got a box of some fun little knick-knacks, the $1,000 my529 scholarship and a lot of my bookmarks. 

“I gave the bookmarks out to my friends at school and to the librarian. I see kids use them sometimes. It’s pretty cool to see my art professionally printed,” Josie said.