February 06, 2013 - Olivia Shumaker
"Sparks in the Night" by Thomas Connolly won a Gold Key in the regional Scholastic Art and Writing competition. (click for larger version)
Review Staff Writer
The artistic talent at Lake Orion High School has once again shown brightly as students have received some top honors at the regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
Lake Orion High School students received four gold key portfolios, nine individual gold keys, 19 individual silver keys and 13 honorable mentions in the regional competition.
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards were started in 1923 by the Scholastic company as a small writing contest. Today, the competition is run through the nonprofit group Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and receives more than 185,000 submissions from students ranging from seventh to twelfth grade. It is the biggest event Lake Orion artists take part in and one of the most recognized art competitions in the country.
"It was started in the hopes of making the arts as important as sports, so that people could compete in the arts and get as much recognition," said Melissa Wilson, AP Art teacher and National Art Honor Society advisor at Lake Orion High School.
Scholastics has 28 categories, which run the gamut from ceramics to drawing, sculpture, photography, film, design and writing categories.
Students can choose to enter pieces to be judged individually or to submit a portfolio of eight pieces to be judged as a whole. Pieces are submitted digitally and judged on originality, technical skill, and personal vision by respected artists, some of whom have won in Scholastic competitions in the past.
Awards are given as a gold key, a silver key, or an honorable mention, the equivalent of first, second, and third place respectively.
"We have a lot of other competitions, but this is the "It" thing," Wilson said. "It's kind of like the Golden Globes for art kids."
Lake Orion students will be attending their regional award ceremony at College for Creative Studies in Detroit on Feb. 16, which is also the opening night for a regional show where their pieces will be featured until March 8. All gold key winners are now entered at the national level, which will be judged in March.
The national level victors will attend an awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City with a few keynote speakers. Among last year's speakers was actress Meryl Streep. The accolades will not end there. Ten portfolios receiving a gold key at the national level will receive a $10,000 scholarship, and several colleges offer scholarships to students who perform well at the national Scholastics level.
"I think it would be cool if someone from our class got a national piece," said Kelsey Bird, a senior AP Art student who received a gold key portfolio.
With the regional scholastic competition over, all of Lake Orion High School's art students are prepare for the school art show, which will take place on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. with a live auction of donated pieces beginning at 5 p.m. The best pieces from all of the high school art students, including those who were awarded at Scholastics, will be up on display and for sale.
Ultimately, through auction or competition, Wilson hopes that these students can look on their work with pride.
"What some of these students do is pretty amazing," Wilson said. "I hope that they're able to look at the work that they've done and they're proud of it."