Scholastic Art & Writing winners receive gold key awards

Nine Westminster students won Gold Keys from the 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the highest level of distinction in the regional level of the esteemed competition. Their submissions now advance to be judged at the national level. These awards allow talented student writers and artists to receive recognition for the work they create. For art, seniors Sasha Fuson, Elizabeth Rothschild, and Ava Wang, junior Max Graves, and sophomore Rachel Liu received Gold Keys, and for writing, senior Jessica Lao, junior Mei Mei Xu, and sophomores Sarah Lao and Sarah Street received this award.
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is a national competition that accepts submissions from middle and high school students in 29 different categories between art and writing. After a student submits their work, it is first judged on a regional level by professionals in the field. The judges look for pieces that “exemplify originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision.” Winners can either earn a Gold Key, a Silver Key or an Honorable Mention. Gold Key works automatically move on to be judged nationally by a panel of creative-industry experts.
This year was Street’s first time submitting to the awards, and she wrote a poem reflecting on the JanTerm course she took last year. Poems are a “way to communicate ideas that I’m passionate about,” said Street. Her JanTerm course about children’s human rights, an important issue to Street, inspired her to write about refugees and children’s rights. After drafting her poem, Street asked English teacher Sabrina Johnson to review it, but did not work closely with a specific teacher to develop it further. However, Street notes published poet Mario Chard as a major influence on her poetry as he provided her with advice when she was first delving into the field.
“Students come in contact with teachers who are also practitioners of their craft which means that their teachers have experience writing and publishing independent of their career as teachers,” said Chard. Westminster teachers’ expertise in their fields allow students to be successful writers and artists through their guidance. The students are able to learn and receive advice from teachers who have experience in their field outside of teaching.
The competition operates the same way for the art portion. A piece is designed in either the classroom or during a student’s free time, typically in conjunction with a teacher who is giving them advice and critiquing their work. Fuson created her gold key piece last year in her art class. The project was about instantaneous events, and Fuson decided to create a mixed media project based off of the idea of flipping a coin.
The art department provides students with plenty of opportunities to “see many different materials, medias, and approaches to art making,” said AP Studio Art: 2D Design Digital Imaging teacher Benjamin Steele. These opportunities are instrumental in a student’s process of creating a piece, as it gives them the proper inspiration, ideas, and tools necessary to create a quality piece.
“They really help to open our minds and ideas towards new things that we haven’t tried,” said Fuson. “I think that’s why I did a lot of mixed media in that piece.” Fuson’s teachers were able to help her find new, original ideas that allowed her to be creative in making her piece.
Students are not creating art with the sole intent of submitting to contests, but rather making it to be “good and include a wide variety of elements and principles of design,” said AP Studio Art: Drawing and Painting teacher Pamela Martinez. According to Steele, the most important part of a piece is “the expression of a personal voice.” While students are not thinking about contests while creating their art, successful pieces “stand out from the crowd,” says Steele. The best pieces typically are original and express the artist’s “personal voice.”
Although the Gold Key winners have already been announced, the competition is not over yet. Gold Key works move on to be judged nationally and have a chance to win gold and silver medals and special achievement awards. The National Medalists will be announced March 13.