None of these talented students were working to win a prize. Instead they were exploring their passions as young artists. Yet they decided to quietly hit a “submit” button and entered their projects in a prestigious art and writing competition. And they won big.
The 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards recognized the work of 10 Mayfield artists, an honor that reflects a devotion to their craft, their talents and the confidence to share their work with others. Collectively, the students won 18 West Region awards, including five Gold Keys, the highest honor.
“The submissions were bold and original,” said Kimberly Gomez, Director of Mayfield’s Conservatory for the Arts program and our Creative Writing teacher. “The students are all low-key about their work, but these recognitions show that they have every reason to be proud of their accomplishments.”
The national awards program, presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, identifies teenagers with exceptional artistic and literary talent, bringing their work to a national audience. Established in 1923 by Maurice Robinson, the founder of Scholastic Inc., the awards are the longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teenagers in the country.
We congratulate our students who have received high honors in the West Region competition:
- Sophia Alvarez ’19, honorable mention in poetry
- Marie Bland ’19, two Gold Key awards for poetry
- Grace Fontes ’21, honorable mention in poetry
- Sadie Gilliland ’19, one honorable mention and one Gold Key award in poetry
- Ellie Kiechler ’19, Silver Key award in journalism
- Gabrielle Magat ’19, honorable mention in mixed media
- Kathryn Mechaley ’22, two Silver Key awards for poetry portfolios
- Sophie Mullin ’19, honorable mention in journalism
- Alexxa Riley ’19, honorable mention in personal essay
- Alexia Saigh ’20, six awards for photography, including two Gold Keys
All works that received Gold Key honors advance to national judging.
Our students said they are honored by the recognition and expressed gratitude for the opportunity at Mayfield to pursue their craft.
Marie Bland ’19 joined the Creative Writing Conservatory her sophomore year.
“I wanted to connect with others and work on my writing in a more structured place and this has helped me do that,” the senior said. “I have found community in this room and setting aside two hours twice a week to write has been nice; it’s been my outlet.”
Sadie Gilliland ’19 said she often sits on the North Lawn, enjoying the solitary exercise of writing. She doesn’t write aiming to win contests, she said, she writes as a form of catharsis and expression.
Both she and Marie entered the contest as a second thought after receiving an email from Ms. Gomez.
“I questioned whether I should submit anything,” Sadie said. “Then I just thought I should be more outgoing, so I did it.”
Gabrielle Magat ’19 said she also made a last-minute decision to submit her mixed media painting hours before the deadline.
“I had never done anything as experimental,” she said. “This piece was a massive step out of my comfort zone, and though it's so different from what I've done before, it still is uniquely my own work.”
She said the subject of her painting, which incorporates ruled paper, built acrylic paint and a gel medium, shows an an Earl Grey ice-blended boba from Urth Caffé. Gabrielle incorporated an actual Urth receipt in the work, giving the piece its title, "Hidden Charges".
“To even be recognized for taking a risk in my art and embracing my style in a new way, means the world to me.” Gabrielle said.
For Alexia Saigh ’20, her love for photography has blossomed under the guidance of faculty member Paul Tzanetopoulos. Her favorite photo, “American Flag Homage,” for which she won a Gold Key, was taken on Memorial Day and celebrates her grandmother who passed away last October. The family was attending an Arcadia Park event honoring local veterans, including her grandfather who was a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in WWII.
“I’ve always been an artist, but I’ve really started loving photography ever since I came to Mayfield and taking photography with Mr. T.,” Alexia said.
“In spite of the many losses my grandmother endured, she had a great passion for life and love for our country which is reflected in this portrait,” Alexia said. “Just like the American flag, my grandmother was beautiful and bold...I’m glad I was able to capture this moment.”
Ms. Gomez said one goal of Mayfield’s Conservatory program is aimed at celebrating the strengths each student brings to her art.
“Although writing and the visual arts are often individual journeys, being with like-minded friends and trusting each other to share vulnerable, creative works encourages them to become better.”