Three Upper School students have received top accolades from NYC’s Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition, including 17 Gold Keys, the highest level of achievement at the regional level. Building upon their success in last year’s competition, Divya M. ’20, Angela G. ’20 and Nancy Y. ’22 earned a combined total of 40 awards celebrating their extraordinary work in writing and art. Their work was selected among 320,000 submissions nationwide and 12,000 in New York City for its, “originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision.” All pieces that won Gold Keys will advance to the national level of the competition.
“I let myself take a lot of risks in my writing, exploring topics that are very personal,” shared Divya, who earned 10 Gold Key Awards, eight Silver Keys Awards and five Honorable Mentions. “My richest writing emerges when I am fully honest with myself and fully aware of how I feel and what I am thinking, which can be very difficult.” She further shared her advice for aspiring writers: “Try not to compare your process or your writing to others.” “Write for yourself and as yourself.”
Divya added that she enjoys writing across genres and experimenting with different types of writing. For the Scholastic Awards, she had the opportunity to create a full writing portfolio, “containing eight distinct pieces of very different styles.” “Creating this portfolio was a really great way for me to look at my writing as a collection and see how all my pieces could collectively tell a continuous, dynamic narrative.”
Nancy, who earned awards in writing and visual art—two Gold Key Awards and a Silver Key Award in writing, as well as a Gold Key Award, three Silver Key Awards and an Honorable Mention in visual art—emphasized the importance of personal expression. “I treated each piece as a way to practice my skills rather than some finalized work I needed to commit to for the express purpose of winning awards,” said Nancy. “If you're passionate about what you're creating, and having fun while creating it, it'll make the entire thing more fun to read/look at.”
Nancy shared that she most enjoys the process of trying something new when she writes. “I really love it when I'm writing something for the first time.” “I might not really have an idea of where it's headed at the start, but by the end of the writing session I always feel very fulfilled. I'm satisfied to know that I've really created something that wasn't there before.”
For Angela, who won four Gold Key Awards, two Silver Key Awards and six Honorable Mentions in visual art, success was about being willing to challenge herself. For example, she pushes herself to create art across a variety of mediums rather than just paint on canvas, which is the form she is trained and practiced in. “The idea of forming new things out of a thousand different new possibilities excites me,” said Angela. “I really thought about using new, unconventional mediums and incorporating these with my already trained painting skills.”
The students also acknowledged their teachers and courses at Spence for helping them develop and hone their creative skills.
Angela, who does much of her work as part of her Spence art coursework, notes that feedback from her art teacher is an important part of her process. “I will do a thumbnail sketch and then consult with the teacher to choose the medium," Angela shared.
“Through Spence's rigorous English curriculum, I was exposed to quality writing and inspired to write myself,” said Nancy. “I have always loved reading from a young age, but going to Spence was really eye-opening in that it showed me I could write, too.”
Also crediting her teachers and courses, Divya shared: “The English classes that I have taken at Spence have helped me develop confidence in my own voice and in the power of what I have to say and share with others…I would not be the thinker or writer that I am without Spence.”
About the Scholastic Art & Writing Award
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7–12. Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity, and talent of our nation’s youth, and provided opportunities for creative teens to be celebrated. Each year, increasing numbers of teens participate in the program, and become a part of our community—young artists and writers, filmmakers and photographers, poets and sculptors, video game artists and science fiction writers—along with countless educators who support and encourage the creative process.