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PICTURE PERFECT: Hearne High School art student qualifies for state competition

Posted at 6:51 PM, Mar 06, 2024

HEARNE, Texas — “It didn’t feel real at first, but the more and more it set in, I was telling everybody, 'I did this' — and it was very exciting for me," said 18-year-old Zach Heldenbrand.

  • Hearne High School Senior Zach Heldenbrand is a photographer in the art program.
  • Recently, Heldenbrand attended a district art competition displaying his work.
  • He was competing to advance to a regional competition when he was informed he would instead advance to the state competition.
  • Texas Art Education Association’s State competition will be on April 26 and 27 in San Marcos, Texas.
  • Hearne ISD will feature Heldenbrand's and other art student's pieces at the 'Texas Art Day' event featuring a showcase of the fine art's department's visual arts, theater, band, cheer, and culinary department for the community.
  • The event will be hosted at the Smith-Welch Library Thursday, March 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.


18-year-old Zach Heldenbrand, has an eye for a perfect picture.

“I wish I would have done it sooner,” said the Hearne High School photographer.

Although he's found success now, the photographer previously almost walked away from his passion for good.

"I didn’t think when I first started that my pictures were good enough, but I kept taking them and I kept doing it, and they got better and better,” Heldenbrand said.

Now, the Hearne High School photographer has been selected to have his art advance to the ‘TAEA Visual Art’ state competition.

“Well [my art teacher] texted me and said “Hey, you won regionals,” — cool, that’s the next step up," Heldenbrand said.

"Then my mom called me and said, “You’re not going to regionals because you are going straight to the state competition — you bypassed everything' — man, I cried like a baby."
He tells 15 ABC’s Chris Talley that his award-winning piece titled 'The Tree of Life' is a tribute to his late grandfather.

“The tree shows structure and stability," Heldenbrand said.

"There was a flood back in the 1800’s — when it flooded, that was the last tree standing and it got bigger and stronger from there."

Well, he passed away from cancer and no matter the challenges he had he was always standing strong,” said Heldenbrand.

Willie Keener is the Director of Fine Arts for Hearne ISD, and said the importance of having programs like this to help build students to a bigger potential.

“It’s important in this district and every district it should be — it develops the whole child, and my thing is, I want it to be fun," Keener said.

"Success any time is great, but the sooner you get it the more confidence you have to take on the challenges before you."

Another one of Keener's students to have their art qualify at a district competition is Diana Mejia, who has advanced to a regional competition.

For Heldenbrand, success is a quality he is confident in showing the world.

“It didn’t feel real at first, but the more and more it set in, I was telling everybody, 'I did this' — and it was very exciting for me," Heldenbrand said.