The Belin-Blank Center features a window installation by renowned artist Lawrence Weiner.

The Belin-Blank Center features a window installation by renowned artist Lawrence Weiner.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards’ national office in New York City is dedicated to growing and supporting our Affiliate Partners across the country. Our Affiliate Partners are doing great work in their communities, and we love hearing about their outreach efforts, their students, and their programs. This month, we shine the spotlight on the Belin-Blank Center at The University of Iowa, which manages a statewide art and writing program as well as the Midwest Region-at-Large program. Here’s what the staff at the Belin-Blank Center had to say about Awards activity in their region:

The mission of the Belin-Blank Center is to empower and serve the international gifted community through exemplary leadership in programs, research, and advocacy. For more than 25 years, we have identified gifted, talented, and artistic learners, and offered specialized educational opportunities for these students. Our outreach to students has always included those whose gifts are in the area of arts and humanities.

The Belin-Blank Center has served as an Affiliate Partner and has managed the Midwest Region-at-Large program for the Scholastic Awards since 2008. This past year, the Belin-Blank Center received and adjudicated almost 10,000 pieces of art and writing. We held a Regional Awards Ceremony for students residing in Iowa who earned a Gold Key, Silver Key, or Honorable Mention on April 11. We then forwarded 430 Gold Key student works to New York City to be considered for National Awards. Our annual Recognition Ceremony was held on October 11 and we invited all of the students in our region who received recognition in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

In addition to the benefits associated with the Scholastic Awards themselves, the Belin-Blank Center uses the program to identify creative students in the arts. Students who excel at the regional and national level are given the opportunity to participate in further programming options. Students from the Scholastic Awards program are invited to attend classes in art and writing in our residential summer programs. The Center has worked with the School of Art and the Department of English on our campus to offer the Visions & Voices Awardees scholarships to attend our summer programs. 

Students evaluate their programs with comments such as these:

“Having the opportunity to take the visual arts class this week was awesome! I learned a lot and made a lot of new friends.”

This camp is an excellent opportunity for students to become better writers as well as broaden both our minds and our worlds.”

“I liked being in a class with other people that understood art and liked doing it. It was also good to have other people that I could talk to about techniques without getting a blank look back.”

I enjoyed the actual class time the most. I was pleased to see that my instructor seemed to really know what he was doing; and it gave me ideas on how to improve my future pieces.”

The Center also works with the Scholastic Awards Alliance Summer Arts Program (ASAP), a scholarship program that places creative teens in top art and writing summer programs across the country. These awardees are all Gold Medal recipients who come from low socioeconomic status backgrounds. We partner with the Alliance to provide full financial aid for these students’ summer experiences.

“When I saw your name, I thought it looked familiar because of [our student] receiving an ASAP scholarship when he was a freshman in 2010 and attending the program at Belin-Blank. [He] is now attending Pratt in New York as a sophomore architectural design student . . .  this program is life-changing for these students! Thank you for all you do in supporting the arts through Scholastic.”—An ASAP educator

FreehandBecause we want to support these students year-round, we developed a blog, Freehand: Midwest Scholastic at the Belin-Blank Center. Our hope is that Freehand will grow and develop into a second home of sorts for our art and writing students: a place to see and read the work of their fellow Scholastic peers, a place to learn more about opportunities to develop their talents, and most importantly, a place that is just for them.

Finally, it is with great pleasure that we announce the opening of a permanent gallery space in the Belin-Blank Center for our Scholastic Awards students. The Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan Gallery features some of the best teen art and writing submitted to the Scholastic Awards from the state of Iowa and the Midwest Region-at-Large. The works are on display on the 5th floor of the Blank Honors Center and are representative of nearly every category and showcase students from grades 7–12. Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan, a longtime supporter of the Belin-Blank Center and lover of the arts, created this gallery space to share these exceptionally talented artists’ and writers’ works.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are proud to work with organizations like the Belin-Blank Center to help talented students receive recognition for their creative efforts. By partnering together, the Belin-Blank Center and the Scholastic Awards give our youth the support they need to become lasting members of their art and writing communities.



To learn more about the Belin-Blank Center, click on an image below to open a PDF of their ceremony program.

April 2015 Regional Ceremony Program

April 2015 Regional Ceremony Program

October 2015 Regional Recognition Ceremony Program

October 2015 Regional Ceremony Program

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