By Scott Schaefer
Toby English – a 15-year-old student at the Why Not You Academy in Des Moines – last week created a stunning work of art after his teacher asked students to draw something that showed how they felt about the recent mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Here’s the original sketch he drew in class:
“This is my reaction to the Uvalde shooting,” English told South King Media. “I didn’t have the words to express how I was feeling about that terrible day, and I wanted to create something that could give words to so many who don’t have them right now.”
His Mom Carolyn Dean was very impressed.
“I picked Toby up from school that day,” she told us. “And he showed me his art. I had no words for it, as I thought it was amazing.”
English’s first sketch was soon shared widely on social media by his proud Mom.
He told us that he sketched the picture after his teacher prompted students to share their feelings about the recent tragedy through art.
“I just started drawing, and the first version took 15-20 minutes,” he said. “For that pencil version, I wanted to show and share the message that in America we aren’t silenced – we can show our words. I painted in America’s ideal.”
Later that night he created a larger digital version, adding color to the flag and words to make it stand out. His teacher, family, friends and even strangers all responded strongly to it.
“Oh how it is sad, and so very cruel. We are left to die at the hands of our fellows. Please, someone save us from the corruption of our foundation. May the people one day see a nation of peace and hope. This nation is my prison, and we are all unrightfully kept. Save the children and take them to a kinder world. I’m sorry to the youth of our times, and the ones kept in silence. Someone save us.”
– Toby English
“I’ve always been an artist – ever since I was little I would paint a lot,” he said. “I have painted in many different mediums, but recently came back to drawing and realized that’s the best way to express myself – to visualize.”
English wants to pursue art, and is considering looking into fields where he could use his talents.
“I find it important to draw and show how I was feeling,” he said. “I didn’t know what to say, and felt like the way the country is run it’s not surprising, not the first time this has happened. I wanted to draw something to get my emotions out, and it feels devastating to me that we’re still in this position.”
English sent us additional words regarding the shooting:
“How the souls of those lost at the hands of cruelty have been stripped away from their families. Kind, sweet children taken out of our hands. May they find a world unlike our own. A place of purity that matches their own. This land has betrayed its own ideals. We were told we stood for freedom and justice, but we must sit and watch children killed at the hands of blind trust. Someone save us from the fine print of our country’s contract. Someone save us before we too are gone.”
Pretty impressive and thoughtful work for a 15-year-old.