FLYING HIGH: Merbein P-10 teacher Jodie Atkinson and winner of the cafe caravan design competition Matilda Smith. Inset: Matilda’s design adorns the caravan.
WHEN the Mildura Airport launched its search for a design for their new cafe caravan, they invited primary school students across the district to enter a ‘best design’ competition.

Merbein P10 Year 5 student, 11 year-old Matilda Smith, last week received news that her entry had been declared the winner, something she was thrilled about.

Matilda’s entry was one of hundreds submitted, leaving the judging panel with a dilemma, but eventually they chose a winner.

A phone call then followed from the airport’s competition co-ordinator, Rebecca Chamberlain, with the good news.

“I was sitting in my room working on my iPad and mummy came in with the phone and I spoke with the lady who told me I had won the design and I was very excited,” Matilda said.

“I love art, I’m not sure what I would like to do when I finish my education, but I could be a graphic designer.”

Jodie Atkinson, the school’s Year 2-6 art teacher, said she couldn’t be more proud of Matilda.

“I was proud of everybody’s work, they all put in such a fabulous effort and Matilda always puts in a 110 per cent with her art,” she said.

“Every week she always says “I love art”. It was great she did it at school and and at home, putting in the extra effort, and so I’m very proud of her.”

Ms Atkinson said that her school had submitted almost 50 designs into the competition.

“We were very lucky that we were still back at school after the first remote learning period and so when we came back in Term 3, we started on the designs,” she said.

“I didn’t want the kids to rush, I wanted to inspire them with ideas and do a plan.

“We had a discussion about the name of the cafe and what is important in our region and utilising the airport – because it is an airport cafe – using those elements to incorporate into their designs.”

Matilda’s mother Jade Smith said she too was very proud of her daughter’s achievement.
“To say I’m proud is an understatement – she done brilliantly!” she said.

“As Jodie said, she loves art and always puts in that extra effort. Sometimes I have to say ‘okay you’ve done enough’ it’s never perfect for her.

She has had an interest in art from an early age, and so have her siblings, who all love their art – that’s their chill-out activity.”

Mildura Airport CEO Trevor Willcock was delighted with the response from the local schools, who he said had submitted hundreds of entries making the judges decision quite a task.

“It was fantastic, we had more that 250 entries, and it got down to two in the final and eventually Matilda’s work was chosen as the winning design, and we are very happy for her,” Mr Willcock said.

Ahead of the airport returning to a busier period, the design will be applied to the caravan cafe in readiness to serve travellers and visitors to the airport.

“The caravan is basically ready and we were just waiting to finalise the design and we should take delivery in about three weeks time,” Mr Willcock added.

A $500 visa gift card was awarded to Matilda and Merbein P10 received a $500 voucher to put toward its art supplies.

Matilda’s design will soon be greeting cafe caravan customers.