Tony Hawk at the awards ceremony. Courtesy of Scholastic.

This post originally appeared on Scholastic’s On Our Mind blog on June 2, 2011. Post by Yanique Hart.

I had the opportunity to watch 808 of the most talented teens in the country get honored in Carnegie Hall at the 2011 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards ceremony on Tuesday evening. It was one of the most amazing ceremonies I’ve ever been a part of. American conceptual artist, John Baldessari was presented with the Alumni Achievement Award by his former student and world renowned painter, David Salle.

Another huge surprise for the kids was when skateboarding legend, Tony Hawk, skateboarded all the way from the back of the auditorium to the stage!  I have never seen an audience more excited.  During his speech, he encouraged the kids to follow their dreams and thanked their teachers and parents for continuing to support the young people on their creative paths.  Tony also judged the video game category in this year’s competition.

This year, there were 185,000 submissions in 29 categories including poetry, painting, sculpture, photography, fashion design and film and animation.  I saw some of the work close up, and I am still in awe.  The most innovative, creative and groundbreaking minds were in the audience that night, and I was honored to be in the same room with them.  Among them were the top winners in this year’s competition, the Gold Portfolio.  I got a chance to meet Gold Portfolio writing winner Victoria Ford of Greenville, SC, who recently talked to the New York Times about her journey as a writer and winning her award. I also spoke with Haris Durrani, another Gold Portfolio winning writer, who talked to NPR’s The Takeaway about growing up multicultural and his journey to Carnegie Hall.  All the award winners were amazing, and I have to say that I can’t wait to meet the new batch next year! To see more pictures from the ceremony, click here.

If you have a creative teen in your life, tell them to visit www.artandwriting.org and enter for their chance to be the next John Baldessari, Zac Posen, Joyce Carol Oates, John Lithgow, Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath and Robert Redford – who all won awards when they were in high school!

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