Scholastically Inclined

Regional awards were announced for the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition, with many LM students among the featured.

Since its inception in 1923, the Scholastic Awards have annually recognized the creative work of adolescents across the nation, making it the longest running competition of its kind. The victors have long decorated American pop culture, creating a permanent impact in the world of art and literature, and sometimes even politics. Notable award recipients include pop artist Andy Warhol (1945), esteemed poet Sylvia Plath (1947), filmmaker Ken Burns in (1971), literature staple Stephen King (1965), Hollywood actress Lena Dunham (1999), and as recently as five years ago, the now nationally-acclaimed poet Amanda Gorman (2015, 2016). 

Graphic designer Wu utilized self-portrature to compose her Gold Key winning comic strip. | Graphic by Emmi Wu ’23/Staff

Students may enter a piece of writing, art, or both. Regionally, all entries are placed under consideration for various awards: the Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention, American Visions Nominee, and American Voices Nominee.  As written on the official website for this competition, entries are judged along the  following criteria: “originality, technical skill, and the emergence of personal voice or vision.” As of early March, regional awards have been distributed. Some talented LM students’ that have been honored are Emmi Wu ’23,  Sean Li ’22, Jessica Zhong ’22, Lila Anafi ’24, and Sophia Schur ’23. (Other students may have won awards but have not chosen to be listed.)

Whether they win or not, putting one’s art up for critique is a challenge in itself. Art can hold a difference in value for any viewer, yes, but it’s natural to feel nerves when someone is reviewing a piece you committed time and effort to creating. One student, who wished for their name to be left out, chimed in: “I don’t think submitting a piece is particularly nerve-wracking. However, it’s a bit fazing to have your pieces critiqued by others just through a sole placing, especially when art is so subjective.” 

Gold Key winner Sophia Schur ’23 does not mind entering her work for evaluation. On getting  judged, she described her thought process by saying, “I feel weirdly comfortable letting strangers see and evaluate my work.” She compared her stance to a John Mulaney quote: “I never talked to my dad about that but I figured I’d tell all of you.” Of course, it might help that she is not a novice. Her first time entering the Scholastic program was in eighth grade, where she was encouraged by the teacher of the gifted program to participate. This year, she won two gold keys for her writing.

Now, Gold Key winning students await the results of the final round, which will be determined and revealed by the end of the month. Nationally, submissions are reviewed for Gold Medal, Silver Medal with Distinction, Silver Medal, and scholarship awards. If they win, their work could get published in the annual art and writing book, and there’s even potential financial benefits for the best of the best: national medalists qualify for scholarships of up to $10,000. Though the chances of national recognition are slim, LM students will continue to give artists and writers across the United States a run for their money.