West Jordan teen honored at Kennedy Center for his art

WEST JORDAN, Utah — A 7th grader at West Jordan Middle School has found himself on a national stage with his artwork. Hunter Boggess’s work, called ‘Creative Storm’ will be displayed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

“It’s kind of boosted his self-esteem I think a little bit,” said Hunter’s mom Holly Boggess.

Hunter is on the autism spectrum. His teachers call his success with art a breakthrough.

“It’s the most fantastic feeling. Every teacher, every special educator is waiting for with every student we have. We want them to have that 'aha' moment. To have the moment that they rise above,” said Lucia Evans, a Special Education teacher who works with Hunter.

Evans described Hunter as a shy kid who often struggled with anxiety. She found the special education art contest through the Kennedy Center last year and brought it to her class as a way for students to build up their confidence and find ways to communicate how they were feeling.

“Students on the autism spectrum have a very difficult time expressing themselves,” Evans said.

For Hunter, the honor has had a ripple effect. Evans says he high-fives other students, helps kids in the special education classroom and talks with school staff, all signs his development is accelerating.

“It just impacted everything else in his life,” she said.

Sitting in his classroom, Hunter had a wide smile on his face talking about his artwork. But it’s just a picture of his master piece because the real one is already on the other side of the country.

“The real one it’s up in Washington,” said Hunter with an unmistakable hint of pride in his voice. The competition landing his work at the Kennedy Center included kids from all around the world.