Several Los Angeles County high school students recently received recognition and awards, including a scholarship, as part of the annual Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards.
There were more than 300,000 submissions this year for the annual arts and writing award, which is organized by the Alliance for Young and Writers, a New York City-based nonprofit. The nonprofit has been organizing the awards since 1923.
Two students from Hancock Park’s all-girls Marlborough School won gold medal awards — Julia Cardenas and Ariella Carmell.
Cardenas, a junior in high school, won the gold medal for her rendering “Trapped Click” in the drawing and illustration category. Carmell, a graduating senior, won the gold medal for her poem, “West Bank” in the poetry category.
Although the gold medals do not include any scholarships, the recognition can help students applying for colleges and scholarships in the future, Carmell said, who will be going to the University of Chicago.
Carmell has pursued creative writing since she was in 7th grade and is the current editor-in-chief of the school’s literary magazine, “The Edge”.
Carmell, like Wiseman and Cardenas, has won previous art and writing contests. However, this is the first time that she has been recognized nationally.
“This is probably the biggest contest I’ve entered and won on the national level. It’s always inspiring to win these things. It’s great to be able to pursue what I love,” she said.
Like Carmell, Cardenas has been drawing since she was a child. She attended Seven Arrows Elementary where creating art was encouraged, Cardenas said.
“And at Marlborough I focused a lot on art and taking outside art classes. It’s certainly been part of my life since I was very young,” Cardenas said.
Although proud of her gold medal, Cardenas doesn’t create art for competitions.
“It’s because most art forms are personal. You do it for yourself first before you do anything,” she said.
Omar Wiseman, a graduating senior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, was one of 16 students who won the highest-ranking award of Portfolio Gold Medalist. In addition to recognition for his art, Wiseman also received a $10,000 scholarship.
“It’s great. I’m excited. I’ve been doing art for as long as I can remember, drawing, painting —ever since I was growing up,” Wiseman said.
Wiseman was recently accepted to Cooper Union, an arts and science private college in New York City, where he also obtained a full-ride tuition scholarship.
Wiseman lives with his family in Van Nuys, from where he commutes for nearly two hours on public transportation to Los Angeles County High School for the Arts on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles.
“I’ve known that art is something that I wanted to do all of my life. And so my parents were able to support me. My mom was a little reluctant for me to go at first because it was so far away but she of course supported me,” Wiseman said.
The Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards have a history of famous and successful winners such as Andy Warhol, Truman Capote and Robert Redford, according to Virginia McEnerney, executive director of the Alliance for Young and Writers.
Although several winners of the annual arts and writing awards do not pursue a career in the arts, all recipients go on to be confident and successful in their own field, according to McEnerney.
“The point is to give kids a powerful formative experience, to be original, to build confidence and to be creative,” McEnerney said.
The 2016 Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards competition will begin Sept. 16 when it will be announced on the website artandwriting.org.
Deadlines will vary by region throughout the country but will likely be around Dec. 16, McEnerney said. Submissions are open to all high school students.
“We don’t look into their legal status or grades. There are no content limits. A student has total freedom of expression to submit. This is the founders’ vision. The criteria are basically originality, technical skill and personal skill. That’s what judges look for,” she said.
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