Students take over the Scholastic Arts Awards


Art comes in a variety of forms that have transformed throughout the years. From animations to paintings to intricate examples of graphic design, students around the globe hope to make their voices heard in ways that continue to evolve.

The Scholastic Art Awards have brought this level of interconnectedness and prestige to students here at GlenOak. These awards serve as the foundation for furthering students’ future success by providing access to national exhibitions, workshops, publication groups and scholarship programs, allowing them to get their feet out the door in the art world.

These awards are arranged into three categories: Gold Keys, Silver Keys and Honorable Mentions. In order to win these awards, an incredible amount of work and detail must go into their final designs, indicating a high level of thoughtfulness and talent.

This year, eight students have been recognized by the Scholastic Art Awards. Ethan Harrer, Juliana Castro, Jagger Dyrland, and Madeline Smith received Silver Keys for their drawings, videos, and animations while Hannah Burchfield, Eva Harper, Lacey Rule, Madeline Smith, and Kylie Welton received Honorable Mentions for their work.

In order to extend the messages of these winners past their visual portfolios, it is necessary to get their insight and see how these artists operated behind the scenes. Out of the eight people who have received awards, three have responded with their insight behind what made their work reach this level of recognition. 

Madeline Smith (Silver Key and Honorable Mention Recipient)

  1. What message did you hope to display through your piece? What elements helped enhance this message? 

[SK] “In my piece Stroll, I hoped to display wonder and mystery as well as showing the importance of nature and the beauty of it. The elements I used to help enhance this message were space and value. I used space to show the perspective of the forest and the girl, and used value to show light and shadows.”

[HM] “The message I hope to display through Soar Higher is to always move forward in life. I feel using the elements shape and texture in this piece really helped me show my hope. Shape helps make up the entire piece and texture makes one perceive the shapes in different ways as one person could view a part of the piece as a triangle as another can view it as a square.”

  1. What does winning this award mean to you?

[SK] “Winning the Silver Key has allowed me to grow as a person and shows that I am moving in the right direction towards a career in graphic design. Winning this award helps me understand my strengths and what I need to work on to improve my skills.”

[HM] “Getting this honorable mention for Soar Higher has helped me understand my weaknesses and strengths in creating. This award was truly meaningful as it allows me to grow and improve from this piece to make even greater pieces in the future. If I never got this achievement I may not have grown as much as a person and never will, as this is a sign that points me in the next direction to pursuing a career in graphic design.”

  1. How long did it take for you to create your work?

[SK] “This work took me about eight hours to complete. I had it critiqued multiple times during the creation of it and was able to learn a lot about designing from this piece.”

[HM] “Soar Higher took around two hours to create. Though I spent little time on this piece compared to others I feel it turned out great. I feel this piece has helped me with time management and learn how to make things that I can be proud of in less time.”

  1. What was your creative process like? Describe the amount of effort that went into planning your submission and the steps that went towards creating your final product. 

[SK] “My creative process going into the design of Stroll was starting with a plan. I was thinking about lavender flowers and forests a lot during the time I made this piece, so I decided to use a lavender flower forest as the background. I then thought of ideas of what to add to the forest. I first thought of adding a girl in the forest to show how magical the forest was and give the viewer a sense of wonder. This idea would help me think of something that could add a deeper meaning to the piece so I created a giant tree to add next to the girl. All the effort and plans that went into this piece were tedious, but worth it and took a long time to get the result I wanted.”

[HM] “My creative process for designing Soar Higher involved me wanting to share a message with all who view it. I first planned out how I was going to make those who view it become inspired and motivated to move forward in life. I turned a landscape into what I view as an eagle soaring through the sky and a chick watching from the ground. Though this piece can be seen as many things as intended as the viewer can view it based on their fears and what they need to overcome some see it as demons, some see it as birds, and some see other people. There was not a lot of effort into planning this piece though planning it really inspired me and was very enjoyable.”

  1. Do you feel satisfied with your final piece? 

[SK] “I feel that it was complete as there was nothing I could add to make it better, or that would enhance or deepen the meaning of the piece.”

[HM] “I feel that Soar Higher’s final work was complete when submitted for scholastics. I feel that if anything was added to the piece it could ruin it as it already has a lot going for it. I am proud of this piece and feel like it’s meaning is as deep as it can get without being altered in any way.”

Lacey Rule (Honorable Mention Recipient)

  1. What does winning this award mean to you?

“I loved being able to explore a new art style because after I finished this piece I started doing this art more often and that has lead to many people talking to me and asking me for personal pieces in the same style and I am very grateful for that and everything scholastics has given me and what art has given me. It has brought so much joy to see my art flourish and evolve.”

  1. How long did it take for you to create your work?

“My project took around a month to finish because of all the small little details. I added the little dots and spots by hand so it took many days for just that alone. I also had never done a piece that colorful and in the style that it was so I did many rough drafts and practice runs so I could make the painting as perfect as possible.”

  1. What was your creative process like? Describe the amount of effort that went into planning your submission and the steps that went towards creating your final product. 

“I had a very detailed plan to make sure the project went well. That plan and the creative process play into each other to a tea. One could not exist without the other. The first thing that really made me think of the idea was I was looking at this square canvas and I knew instantly that I wanted to use that canvas for something colorful. I started the sketch right after that and I didn’t have a plan for what I was going to do on the canvas so I was just sketching anything that came to my mind. There was no direction to the piece which I believe made it better for many reasons cause I wasn’t thinking too hard so I wasn’t stuck on the art not looking like what I envisioned in my mind.”

Juliana Castro (Silver Key Recipient)

  1. What message did you hope to display through your piece? What elements helped enhance this message?

“The message that I am trying to portray is stereotypes against men and it is about mental health stigmas. I feel like we have made a lot of progress in terms of helping decrease the mental health stigma in women and in children, but I feel like it is pretty unspoken how men also suffer from mental health. This also causes men to have much higher suicide rates than women because of the lack of help that they receive and that’s the social message that I wanted to portray in my work. I have seen a lot of guys around me and people who are my friends suffer because they did not want to be thought of as weak or as lesser than a man. I want to bring awareness to that and change that. In my piece I did that by using three male figures that represent the people that struggle fighting these stereotypes. One of them is meant to be displayed as shy because society in general would never accept a man like this. I have another figure that is jumping and scared that is meant to show how society does not accept men who are cowardly. My last one is the skinny one, which is meant to show how men suffer from eating disorders, which is largely unspoken. You might be thinking, why is a woman talking about issues that impact men? I feel like everyone is human and I do not want to see anyone suffer. If there is an imbalance that I see I want to try to bring attention to that imbalance.”

  1. What does winning this award mean to you?

“Honestly it is incredibly flattering that another professional thought that my work deserved a Silver Key. It is extremely flattering and it made me very happy to receive this award. It means a lot to me as it makes me feel like I am starting to have something in return for all of the work that I have put into my art. For a time in my life, I felt like art was not going to get me anywhere and I felt like I was going to play into the stereotype of the ‘starving artist’. A part of me still feels that because of the way that people view art. My family encourages me to try to go towards something in the STEM field. I love STEM, I love forensics, I love critical thinking, I love problem solving, I love math, I love science, but I feel like you can apply all of those critical thinking skills into any art major or any job that includes art. I want to combine all of these passions together into something that I can do for the rest of my life. I do not think it is worth it to get a job where you can get millions of dollars while not being exactly ‘happy’. Even though I may live under a bridge, I will be happy expressing my own thoughts, ideas and voice and I appreciate that Scholastics has started to create a path for me to go in that direction.”