TAMPA – The kids at Hillel Academy are pretty good at building bridges.
People in Tampa might not always be crazy about bridges, but at the Hillel Academy, 2020 W. Fletcher Ave., they are perfectly fine. The students had the assignment of creating “Building Bridges” artwork to embrace differences among students and other people in the Tampa community. It was mostly an antibullying campaign that brought kids together. The artwork was entered into a contest that included more than 500 international entries. Of the 48 finalists, three of the Hillel students earned honors, including Zev Huneycutt, Aidan Gonzalez, and Sophia Price.
And while antibullying wasn’t necessarily the theme, the kids at Hillel said that it hit close to home. Bullying, Aidan said, isn’t prevalent at Hillel, but she feels the effects and teamed up with Sophia to do a duel project.
“I have been bullied since I was a kid because I am short. It makes me feel sad and when you have people like Sophia there for you, it makes me feel good, but when you are small and people want to pick on you, it’s sad,” she said.
Sophia said she and Aidan have sleepovers and talk about bullying. She knows that their artwork won’t settle all the problems, but just recognizing that there are a problems is the best first step.
“There’s a special bond with Aidan and me,” Sophia said. “There are different culture and different religions and we need to realize that it is okay to be different.”
Zev drew a picture of two buffaloes that were completely different: one had polka dots. The two stared at each other, with a sun shining in the far corner.
“I got the idea from looking at a lot of art and decided that this was what I thought would be right,” Zev said. “I wanted to show the two buffaloes getting along even if they were different.”
Aidan and Sophia knew from the start that they wanted to work with each other. They came up with the idea of having kids of different races jumping on a set of bricks. Some of them had the names of different religions. Hillel is predominately Jewish, but all religions were included on the walls that Aidan and Sophia drew.
“We wanted to show happy kids and show all different religions,” Sophia said. “The kid in the middle is just jumping for joy. We are all the same.”
Aidan agreed. “In the end, we are all different but we are all the same. We can build with each other and that’s what the blocks in the project is all about. Everybody needs to build on each other.’’