Not Solomon

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I just landed a new job as executive director a youth program. One of
my duties is to judge the annual youth art show. Think 1000 aspiring
artists in the K-12 age range. There’s no money at stake except the
gift certificates from the local crafts/framing store. But there’s plenty
of people emailing me to tout their favorite student, neighbor, or child.
We have room to display only 65 finalists. Frankly I’d be happy if there
were that many good ones. Help!!
Not Solomon

Dear Not Solomon:
I’ve seen lots of refrigerator art done by K-12 kids. Occasionally
there’s a budding Cezanne. But lots more of it looks like Picasso on
bad drugs. So you’re going to want to spread the responsibility for
choosing around. I would ask for two volunteers, or appoint two
assistants. Perhaps an arts teacher from the schools or a big donor.
The important thing as that you have an odd number of judges.
Here’s how it’ll work. Round one you all go through the entries and
unless at least one judge is willing to say, “This one stays in,” the
entry is eliminated. For round two, at least two judges have to say an
entry gets included. Round three, all three have to agree. At the end
of round three, you either have too many entries or too few. But you
have also narrowed the problem down to how far from 65 you are,
plus or minus. Then you can schmooze and horse trade until you get
to the right final mix. Next year, see who else wants to do the honors.
They’ll probably like your system.