Scholastic competition encourages creative liberty in students


Abhigna Koochana

Junior Tanisha Lanka adds the final touches to one of her pieces illustrating her cultural identity

Abhigna Koochana, Staff Writer

Senior Jaylin Price exits her house to find inspiration for her art in the depths of mother nature. The need for this is not personal, but rather for a competition that spotlights skilled and imaginative artists. The Scholastic Art and Writing competition, created by the Alliance of Young Artists and Writers, has been around for almost 100 years. From medals to scholarships, this competition allows students to be recognized for their work. 

On one side of the competition is writing. The deadline for submitting writing pieces is Dec. 7. With no theme, prompt, or topic, students have creative reign on what they choose to submit. 

“It’s a nice opportunity to build your experience of trying to put your work out there, to build some confidence in yourself too and see what you can accomplish,” English teacher James Steck said. “And if you submit to a competition like that, then you have to think ‘I’m going to submit to a specific audience’ and that’s going to frame your writing in a different way.” 

The Scholastic competition begins regionally. The winners receive a gold or silver key or an honorable mention. For art, the keys can be shown in the Northern Virginia community college’s Annandale campus where there is an open gallery and award ceremony on March 1, 2023. 

The gold key winners go on to the national competition in New York City. However for writing, the keys are invited to a nationwide online award ceremony. The keynote speaker this year is Gregor Magurie, the author of “Wicked.” The gold key winners are automatically considered for the national level award. Students are strongly encouraged by the FCPS division and teachers to submit to the competition.

“It’s a really good opportunity for my students to get recognized because there are a lot of really great artists here,” art teacher Terilynn Thomas said. 

As for art, students can submit a piece in various categories, including architecture, design, digital art, fashion, film, jewelry and many more. The deadline for art submissions is Jan. 6. 

Senior Dorothy Philip painted a girl lying on the ground surrounded by a butterfly, tulips, and a miniature girl cuddling with her dog. Another painting features a bloody hand dripping onto cherry-topped pancakes. As part of her AP portfolio, Philip plans to submit these pieces to the competition.  

“I find inspiration for my art through experiences in my life as well as from other artists I find on social media,” Philip said.

Philip uses a variety of mediums for her art, including acrylic paints and charcoal as well as other less traditional substances such as wire and cardboard. 

“I had an overarching idea for this piece and thought of different ways to portray this with different mediums,” Philip said. “As for symbols within my pieces, I gain most of my inspiration from novels and films.”

“A lot of the art will be what students as teenagers feel and think.”

— art teacher Terilynn Thomas

Other art students continue to work on their portfolios for the Scholastics competition. Senior Jaylin Price created a black and white collage with a sunset gradient heart in the middle. 

“My Scholastic piece represents my love for art and design,” Price said. “It shows my favorite aspects of art, which are painting, digital design and fashion. My inspiration comes from anything and everything: movies, shows, social media, nature.”

As a part of art, photography is also judged at the Scholastic competition. Junior Shriya Endlaw worked on a photography assignment and planned to use the same photo for the Scholastic competition. After experimenting with various ideas, she settled on a dramatic black-and-white photo of her classmate. 

“I had some ideas before, but none of them really panned out,” Endlaw said. “So, at some point, I was like, ‘you can just do whatever you want’ and we just kind of had fun with it. I feel like most of my photos turn out really good when I can just go with the flow.”

Regardless of whether one is submitting an art piece or a photo, inspiration is universal. 

“Some common things that I’ve seen taken as inspiration are relationships,” Thomas said. “There’s relationships to others, relationships to yourself like how we see ourselves. A lot of the art will be what students as teenagers feel and think.”