Photo wins money for Art Department

She’s tackled everything from family portraits to graduations and senior portraits to weddings. She’s even waited for more than 10 hours in extreme summer heat to get the perfect shot of a lizard eating an ant.

On Nov. 1, Micaela Piacentino, senior, won first place in the Hometown Hardee’s High School Photo Contest. This contest, which was open to all high school students, stretched over five different states. Not only did Piacentino win a spot on the wall for a big print-out of her photo in the Chesterfield Valley Hardees, but she also won $2,500 for the MHS art department.

“I really do enjoy having the determination to find that one picture that I feel like turned out perfect, and I really don’t stop until I get it,” Piacentino said.

It took Piacentino two days and around 600-700 photos to get the winning shot. She used a technique called light painting, where she took long exposure photos with a moving light source, and captured the image of a girl sitting on the back of a car drawing out the Hardee’s ‘H’ with a sparkler.

She has taken Photography 1 and 2, Graphic Design 1 and 2, AP Art Studio 1, and is currently taking AP Art Studio 2. With her four-year photography record, she has won recognition in several photography contests, including four first place awards in photography contests of 500 competitors or more.

Piacentino remains inspired and said that no matter what, she will always be looking for ways to keep improving her work.

“A lot of my friends, teachers and family always say that they knew I was going to win all along, but I guess I don’t think that way,” Piacentino said.

Photographed by Micaela Piacentino
Piacentino has also taken pictures of families, seniors, graduates and weddings.

One of her close friends and frequent models, Emma Watson, senior, said Piacentino definitely deserved to win the contest. She said that because Piacentino is such a determined person, she’s always pushing herself to produce better work.

“It’s definitely been a challenge to create some of the photos we’ve had to take together, so I think that with those challenges, she’s had to adapt,” Watson said.

Watson said she hopes this award shows people that Piacentino is a lot more talented than she lets on to be and helps her earn notice from colleges.

“She’s always been an independent person and has done her own thing,” Watson said. “She’s very adventurous, so I think that this part of her that experiences photography lets her express that to everybody else and shows her what she enjoys and what she’s passionate about.”

Jamie Wildt, art teacher, said she hopes Piacentino is an example for students that there are so many opportunities to be successful outside of school, and the more opportunities students seek, the more rewards there are.

“I think this is a good example of how Mica has found this ability to incorporate art into her life as a passion and a hobby, but she’s still pursuing other dreams that she has at the same time,” Wildt said.

Wildt said that she and the other art teachers are collaborating to find ways to use the $2,500 funds that will showcase student work or go back and benefit more students.

“We want to make sure that Micaela’s memory and her experience is remembered because I think it encourages students to branch out and do things like this outside of their classwork,” Wildt said.