by LeeAnne Bordelon
When Cedar Creek 2023 honor graduate Reagan Nguyen heads to LSU this fall, she will leave a one-of-a-kind parting gift in honor of the school where she spent 14 years as a student.
During her senior year, Nguyen painted a series of canvases featuring beloved children’s book titles. The original artwork is displayed in the newly re-designed elementary library at Cedar Creek.
“We wanted to create a space that fosters a love of reading among students,” Nguyen said. “While the lower elementary library had artwork featuring popular children’s book characters, the area for older students lacked any paintings on its walls. I decided to create book cover paintings that would capture their interest.”
Nguyen’s first painting, Poppy’s Return by Avi, soon inspired a collection.
“I chose to include additional covers, including Restart by Gordon Korman, Hatchet by Gary Paulson, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park—each with their own important messages for older children,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen, an already busy student (she is an AP Scholar with Honor and graduated Salutatorian of the senior class), dedicated evenings and breaks during her senior year to complete the series.
“Ultimately, I painted a total of seven distinct book covers, representing a diverse range of books, and concluding my collection and senior year with a sense of pride,” Nguyen said.
“Art has been a significant part of my life since I was young and has allowed me to express myself in unique ways. From the early days of finger painting and sketching, to exploring different mediums and techniques as I grew older, art has always provided me with a sense of joy and fulfillment.”
Nguyen’s final and most challenging painting, The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera, was recommended by her beloved fourth-grade reading teacher, Mrs. Allison Rufleth, who remains on the faculty.
“Cedar Creek became like a second home to me as I found a sense of belonging and comfort within its walls,” Nguyen said. “The supportive community of teachers and peers made me feel welcomed and valued. In this familiar setting, I could freely express myself, explore my interests, and discover my strengths.”
Nguyen said she embraces “both moments of spontaneity and deliberate decision-making” in her artwork, which she hopes will remain an integral part her life—even as she pursues a major in biological sciences at LSU.
“I am committed to nurturing my artistic abilities alongside my studies,” she said. “My passion for art will always hold a special place in my life.”