Return to Headlines

Empowering Students to See Their Potential - A Little Elm High School Student Spotlight

April 1, 2021

Picture and Artwork The power went out at 9:30 a.m. It was a blistering cold day outside, too cold to be without power, making it uncomfortably cold inside a home where warmth shouldn’t be a problem. “It was cold all day. My dad built a fire in the fireplace and my brother and I were near it to stay warm, and then I saw it,” said Aja Washington, a teenager who relishes on moments like this. “I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture because I thought the colors and lighting were perfect.”

Washington is a senior at Little Elm High School and has found her passion and storytelling abilities through art.  She prefers portrait-type imagery so she can transfer the essence of those real moments to canvas by using the colors she sees. And on that particular sad night in the cold, as she described it, she related the warm dark tones to how other Texans might be feeling, “I wanted to tell the story about how others might be surviving without power in their homes.”

Washington is in the top ten of her graduating class and has been a student at Little Elm ISD since the very beginning. She attended Zellars Elementary from kindergarten to 5th grade, she attended Prestwick when it was a K-8 campus, and will be graduating Little Elm High School in May 2021. She was in the gifted and talented program in elementary and attributes her 6th grade art class at Prestwick for her passion. “I mean, I started drawing at a young age, but it wasn’t until I was in an art class learning about all the different mediums, colors, shading, and techniques that I really started exploring what I could do.”

For years, she has matured as an artist through her vision of capturing “people of color, living in color.” She said, “to live in color as a black person is to always be your whole authentic self and not let society tell you what you look like. I am very intentional about adding color to my art pieces. I love oranges, yellows, purples, those warm colors that add depth,” she said.

Her art teacher, Melissa Connour, is amazed at the amount of talent Washington has. “Her understanding of color and detail is remarkable. There’s no way I would have thought to use the amount of color she uses when I was her age.”  Connour is preparing to send Washington’s art piece to the VASE State competition after it advanced from regionals. She will learn the results sometime in April.

“I think we’re fulfilling the District’s mission to help students realize their full potential by not hindering them, letting them explore, see their ideas, and push the boundaries. When you give them that kind of freedom, they are engaged and interested. I have seen Aja grow and mature so much as an artist, her talent and even my other students’ talents, makes me want to come to work every day,” said Connour.

Washington has a $69,000 a year scholarship to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania where she plans to double major in pediatric psychology and art.