Neal Communities hosts 17th annual art contest at Tara Elementary School

Neal Communities (, southwest Florida’s premier, private homebuilder, recently held its annual “My Favorite Home” contest, an art competition that engaged an entire elementary school – from kindergarteners through fifth graders – at Tara Elementary School in Bradenton, Fla.

This marks the 17th year that Neal Communities has hosted the My Favorite Home art contest, featuring a different community school each year in Manatee or Sarasota County. The top five student finalists from each grade level attended along with their families, school officials, and guest judges from around the community.

“Our students thoroughly enjoyed the contest,” said Laura Campbell, principal of Tara Elementary School. “Since we are the Tara Elementary Knights, our art teacher decided to have students create castles, because after all, your home should be your castle. The artwork truly turned out amazing, and I am so proud of our students.”

Neal Communities also donated $1,500 to the school’s art program at the event.

“We are extremely thankful to Neal Communities for its generous donation, which we will use toward a big goal to purchase a new kiln or iPads for the students to upload their artwork,” said Patricia Knowlton, art teacher at Tara Elementary School.

A celebrity-judging panel, including Manatee County School Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, Observer Media Group editor Jay Heater and Bradenton Herald reporter Meghin Delaney, chose six grade-level winners. Neal team members from marketing, sales, purchasing and accounting joined them. The Neal team selects two overall winners and those students’ artwork will adorn the cover of the 2016 holiday card for Neal Communities and Neal Signature Homes.

“For 17 years, we have been hosting this wonderful event that celebrates student art and education, and for 17 years, it has been an annual highlight for me both personally and professionally,” said Pat Neal, CEO and chairman of the board at Neal Communities. “We are so thankful to the administration team at Tara Elementary School for welcoming us and allowing us to offer this contest to their students. We are continually amazed at the creativity exhibited in the student masterpieces, and we always look forward to sharing that creativity with our friends and families on our firm’s holiday card.”

All students from kindergarten through fifth grade participated in the contest. The kindergarten class worked with collages, and the first graders used printmaking on their collages. Second and third graders used oil pastels to work in the style of artist, Paul Klee, while the fourth graders used congruent angles to create the illusion of depth. Fifth graders learned how to use light and shadow to create a 3-dimensional effect with watercolor. Those submissions were narrowed down to the top 30 entries – five from each grade level.

“This contest was a wonderful opportunity for students to explore different art media in combination with our existing art curriculum,” said Knowlton. “The students enjoyed the challenge tremendously, and I loved watching them make connections with core curriculum.”

The grade-level winners listed included:

  • Kindergarten – Reef McMaster

  • First grade – Zoe Ogden

  • Second grade – Samantha Pisani

  • Third grade – Lillian Boderhorn

  • Fourth grade – Tien Thai

  • Fifth grade – Jake Karam

About Neal Communities

Neal Communities was named the Professional Builder national 2015 “Builder of the Year” and was named one of 2012’s “America’s Best Builders” by BUILDER Magazine and voted the “2013 Best Residential Builder in Southwest Florida” in a readers’ poll sponsored by Gulfshore Business Magazine. The company is ranked No. 1 locally by Metrostudy and by Hanley Wood Market Intelligence based on number of home sales and ranked nationally among the top 50 builders by BUILDER Magazine. To date, Neal has built over 10,000 homes in southwest Florida. As the area’s largest and most established, locally owned and operated private builder, Neal Communities is continually striving for excellence in every aspect of the home building and development business. Neal Signature Homes, Neal Land Ventures, Charlene Neal PureStyle, Waterscapes Pools & Spas, Neal Communities Funding, Fiducia Insurance and Allegiant Title Professionals all contribute to the firm’s continued, record-setting local success. The company’s honors and accolades include 44 Parade of Homes 2015 awards, 50 Aurora Awards, 5 Best in American Living Awards and hundreds of local and regional industry awards. For more information, visit


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