Untitled, Painting by Leonardo Bacan, Grade 12, Age 19, New World School of the Arts, Doral, FL

Untitled, Painting by Leonardo Bacan, Grade 12, Age 19, New World School of the Arts, Doral, FL

A Gold Medal Portfolio Award is the highest honor students can receive in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Each year, jurors choose portfolios from sixteen high school seniors whose works best represent the Scholastic Awards judging criteria: originality, technical skill, and emergence of a personal vision or voice. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll be profiling two of the 2016 Gold Medal Portfolio recipients. First up are Shayla Grace Cabalan and Leonardo Bacan.

Shayla Grace Cabalan is from Indianapolis, Indiana, and attends Roncalli High School.

“I have chosen these writings because we live in a world which has constantly struggled with its own moral tug of war, caught not between good and evil, but between good and indecision. We live in a world of contradictions, a world wherein humans are merely toy soldiers struggling with the battle.

“My hope is that this writing will make you put your words away. My hope is that this writing will call to mind injustice, will call to mind the oppressed, the elderly, the depressed, the homeless, so that these skeletons of the city might not crumble out of existence having never experienced the feeling of being utterly saved by someone who cares. My hope is that my writing can help avoid the bad ending at the end of our current pathway.”

Excerpt from Skeletons of the City

“It’s raining.”

Kabaw ko.”

“Can you see?”

“Yes.”

The rain fell in a torrential tizzy, as if desperate to caress the earth. The windshield wipers swung back and forth across the van’s front window like a steady metronome, and through the wet, foggy semicircle the blades created with their swiping, I could make out the congested streets of inner-city Cebu, illuminated by two conical headlights. All around me, my ‘older’ cousins were a loud, tangled mess of limbs and kicking feet, insults and injuries and that cocky, lopsided grin I’d inherited but rarely used; through the beads of rain on my window, I could see barefooted, brown skeletons roaming the streets, their clothes hanging limply from their angular frames like tattered flags on rusty poles. One of these skeletons pressed himself flush against the driver’s window; wordlessly my aunt rolled it down and handed the skeleton some change, and the man lumbered away from our van with his eyes fixated on the heavens. Thanking God, perhaps.

Excerpt from Take You With Me

I left Paris less than a month prior to the ISIS attacks, and often I think of the blonde woman in the old frock coat, and the way her lips grazed my cheeks while we floated over the Seine.

My family and I were in Europe for a week to celebrate my eighteenth birthday, and thinking back to the grandiosity of the gesture still makes me nauseous. In Filipino families, it is customary to approach one’s eighteenth birthday in much the same way the famed Mrs. Astor would have approached one of her famous fifth avenue fetes: sparing no expense or luxury. Only the finest will do. Everything is a competition for likes on Facebook.

Untitled, Painting by Leonardo Bacan, Grade 12, Age 19, New World School of the Arts, Doral, FL

My Into Space, Painting by Leonardo Bacan, Grade 12, Age 19, New World School of the Arts, Doral, FL

Leonardo Bacan is from Doral, Florida, and attends New World High School of the Arts.

“My work abstractly represents my emotional state, dealing with circumstances collecting myself, contemplation, and taking action in these meditative environments full of movement, serenity, and disruption. Yes, these paintings are a refuge during my process of making them, as well as the final result. The realm that exists in the work is just a location of escape, promoting contemplation, it empowers me to take action and allows me to exist, imaginatively, in these “meditative” environments with flowing movement, serenity, and disruption; a rhythm reminiscent of life, or my life. Especially in this point specifically in my life, where an overwhelming change is happening. I am leaving one phase behind and initiating a brand new phase, becoming more independent. That is very important to me right now and should be to everyone when life happens.”

Untitled, Painting by Leonardo Bacan, Grade 12, Age 19, New World School of the Arts, Doral, FL

Untitled, Painting by Leonardo Bacan, Grade 12, Age 19, New World School of the Arts, Doral, FL

To see more Gold Medal Portfolio recipients, past and present, visit our Eyes on the Prize series.

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