Home Community Blog Students Earn National Awards for Photography and Creative Writing

Waterford School has participated in the Scholastic Awards for art and writing for many years, where students perform well both regionally and nationally. Waterford students proudly entered this year’s 98th annual 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.  The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards were established in 1923, and are the nation’s largest, longest-running, most prestigious visual and literary arts program recognizing creative accomplishments of students in grades 7–12. Past winners have included many names you might recognize, including: Stan Brakhage, Donald Barthelme, Sylvia Plath, Cy Twombly, John Updike, Andy Warhol, Kay Walkingstick, Truman Capote, Frances Farmer, Bernard Malamud, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, Ken Burns, Richard Linklater, Lena Dunham, and Zac Posen.

Sierra Sun
Screenshot of Sierra Sun’s article in the Salt Lake Tribune

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards were founded in 1923.  This program recognizing young artists and writers is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious in the nation.  This year over 230,000 works were entered in 28 award categories—including short story, fashion design, photography, memoir, printmaking, poetry, and novel writing.  You may have already heard that Waterford students did very well at the Regional level of judging — 112 Waterford student submissions won a total of 26 regional Gold Key awards, by far the most of any Utah high school.

At the National level, students can be recognized with even higher honors.  After Scholastic presents regional awards, they further consider Gold Key works of art for national medals, including Gold and Silver medals, American Voices & Vision medals, and Special Achievement Awards. Less than one percent of entries receive a National Gold or Silver Medal. The Awards serve as a launch pad for furthering students’ future success by providing them with access to scholarship programs and workshops, as well as the ability to have their work published and displayed in regional and national exhibitions.

Chris Wisniewski, Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, said: “The past twelve months have presented all of us—including our country’s teens—with unprecedented challenges. The extraordinary young people recognized in this year’s Scholastic Awards have crafted fresh, original work that grapples with the pandemic, racial and social justice, climate change, and more while also mining personal stories of triumph, loss, heartbreak, and growth. The National Medalists have blown us away with their ability to express themselves through inspired and inspiring art and writing; now more than ever, we need to hear the voices of these future leaders.”

Pink Justice
“Pink Justice” by Emory S. ’21

Waterford is proud to celebrate Emory S. ’21 for winning a National Gold Medal for her “Pink Justice” photograph and Sierra S. ’25 for winning a National Silver Medal for a piece “Out of Toilet Paper? Don’t Flush the Other Stuff“, a piece that was also published in the Salt Lake Tribune. 

The National Gold Medal signifies the most outstanding works in the nation and Silver Medal works demonstrate high honors on the national level. National Medalists receive certificates and medals and are considered for national exhibition, publication, and scholarship opportunities. Gold Medalists and most scholarship recipients are also invited to attend the annual National Events week of celebration in New York City.

Read more about the long history of the Scholastic Awards here:  https://www.artandwriting.org/awards/history/

To find a complete list of the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Medalists, visit: artandwriting.org.

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