Students were awarded two Gold Keys in writing, four Silver Keys, three for writing and one for art, and six honorable mentions. Junior Zofia Luther received a Gold Key for her critical essay “By the Numbers,” and a Silver Key for her personal essay “Wigs.” Junior Mishon Levine earned a Gold Key for her personal essay “The Fruits of China,” a Silver Key for “Well, What’s It Worth to You?” and honorable mentions in the journalism and poetry categories. Freshman Aysu Türkay was awarded a Silver Key for “Playdate,” and junior Erin Mahoney was awarded a Silver Key in art for her photograph, "Passages," and an honorable mention in writing.
The following received honorable mentions:
Senior Autumn Menzock for her portfolio "Abstractions of Nature"
Mishon Levine for “E Pluribus Unum”
Junior Caroline Cox for “The 19th”
Junior Bing “Tim” Han for “Essence of Food”
Erin Mahoney for “The World Will Never Be the Same”
Mishon Levine for “Lost, Found, Always Searching”
The students learned about the competition through the Senior School English Department, and, on average, the writers took several weeks to write, edit, and perfect their pieces. Each student shared his or her sentiments about the competition.
Zofia formed her essays from personal experiences – watching friends, classmates, and a sibling go through the grueling process of applying to colleges. In “By the Numbers,” she reflects on the process’ power to shape teenage behavior in a society with a growing emphasis on college prestige. The inspiration for “Wigs” came from conversations about her mother’s journey with cancer, her childhood journey with vitiligo, and their relationship. “Being recognized for two creative writing pieces was certainly not something that I anticipated,” Zofia shared. “After writing these two pieces, I found that breaking away from the mold of academic writing is both challenging and freeing while allowing me to explore topics I would not have naturally gravitated towards.” She said the pieces allowed her to inject her own comments on her world rather than analyzing other literary works.
Mishon submitted eight pieces, five of which earned recognition. She described one piece as a verbal painting, while her other works speak to her personal journey as a Chinese-American adoptee and her accounts of visiting her homeland. "E Pluribus Unum" follows two storylines during World War II: her great grandfather and the City of Pittsburgh. This is not Mishon’s first time entering writing competitions. “It's really nice to know that an audience was able to read my work and feel something,” she said. “My key goal as a writer is to draw emotion from the reader, whether it be through a sense of sadness, excitement, curiosity, or fulfillment, so to see tangible signs that I'm able to establish a form of deeper communication with strangers is really cool.”
Aysu’s writing, “Playdate,” is based on a time when she felt like an outsider when she was younger. “When I learned that I had won an award, I was happily surprised,” she exclaimed. “I didn't expect to win anything out of all the people who entered, especially since this was my first time doing something like this. I was really grateful to Mrs. Russell for all the help she gave me while working on this piece as well.”
Erin submitted pieces for the art and writing awards. “The photograph was quite easy to take, and I would say that the essay was more fun than challenging. I really enjoyed the work that went into writing it, since I love mixing desperate elements of life together to form one coherent message that I wanted to express,” Erin said. “I was very excited to hear about my awards, especially since I found out about them both in a span of less than 36 hours. I also won a nomination for a different writing contest in that same time frame, so it was really exhilarating.”
Autumn, who achieved an honorable mention, submitted eight pieces entitled “Abstractions of Nature,” which she initially created for her AP and college admission portfolios last year. “The process of making them was really fun. I started by trying out a new style reflecting the work of Heather Day, who represents nature in her own abstractions,” she said. “When I found out about the Scholastic Award, I felt proud because I had turned a series of experiments into beautiful works of art.”
Bing “Tim” Han’s piece is mainly about the experience of being homesick and lonely as an international student studying in the U.S. “This unique experience has deepened my appreciation of my own culture,” he stated. He found the process both enjoyable and difficult, and was really excited and thankful for everyone who helped him along the way, especially Mrs. Russell for patiently offering advice and support throughout this year.
As a regional Gold Key winner, Mishon’s and Zofia’s work has been submitted to the National Art and Writing Alliance for the national competition. Each year, according to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Alliance partners with more than 100 visual arts and literary arts organizations across the country to bring the Scholastic Awards to local communities. Teens in grades 7–12 apply in 29 categories of art and writing. Last year, students submitted more than 350,000 works of art and writing to the Scholastic Awards.
The regional Scholastic Art Awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, February 23, at the Community College of Allegheny County North Campus and the regional Scholastic Writing Awards ceremony will happen on the same date at the University of Pittsburgh.
Thanks Zofia, Mishon, Aysu, Erin, Tim, Autumn, and Caroline for sharing pieces of you!