Still from Just Another File, Film & Animation by Raymond Tang

Still from Just Another File, Film & Animation by Raymond Tang

Dealing with the loss of a loved one at a young age can be difficult, but making art and writing can be useful ways for teens to process their grief. In 2016, the Scholastic Awards partnered with the New York Life Foundation to encourage grieving students to find a creative outlet to handle the emotions that come from experiencing loss at a young age. Through this partnership, the New York Life Award was created to honor six teenagers whose original works of art and writing helped them deal with their grief. Each Award also comes with a $1,000 scholarship.

Congratulations to the 2017 New York Life Award recipients: Gabrielle Broome, Benjamin Cruz, Ali Gaarsland, Melissa Lu, Alexa Russell, and Raymond Tang!

Gabrielle Broome is in Grade 11, Age 17, and attends Star High School in Bronx, NY

Denial, Painting by Gabrielle Broome

Denial, Painting by Gabrielle Broome

Ali Gaarsland is in Grade 11, Age 17, and attends Fargo South High School in Fargo, ND

“My Grief,” Poetry by Alison (Ali) Gaarsland

Don’t tell me you understand
Don’t say you know
Don’t tell me I will survive
Or for sure grow
Don’t say this is just a test
That I’m truly blessed
That I am chosen for this task
Apart from the rest
Don’t come at me with answers
That can only come from me
Don’t say my grief will pass
That I should soon be free
Don’t tell me how to suffer
Don’t tell me how to cry
Because honestly
I shouldn’t have had to say
goodbye.

Benjamin Cruz is in Grade 12, Age 18, and attends Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, CA

I Buried My Sister in an Open Field, Painting by Benjamin Cruz,

I Buried My Sister in an Open Field, Painting by Benjamin Cruz

Alexa Russell is in Grade 10, Age 16, and attends Pryor High School in Pryor, OK

Excerpt from “My Elephant and Me,” Personal Essay & Memoir by Alexa Russell

I am haunted by an elephant. He hovers over my shoulder wherever I go. I’ve tamed him, he isn’t in control. I let him hang around in my memories and remind me that life is good. Despite all I’ve been through, I choose to believe him. Life is genuinely good. Bad things happen, but life isn’t the sum of every horrible circumstance. It’s much, much more. Life is experiencing the moments in which we are truly loved, no matter how fleeting. And I count myself and my brother among the lucky few who can honestly say:

“I have lived.”

Raymond Tang is in Grade 12, Age 18, and attends Watchung Hills Regional High School in Warren, NJ

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