Back with THE BIG IDEA this week is alum Alexandra Franklin! Alexandra received a Scholastic Award in 2010 for her writing portfolio, and returned in the following year to edit The Best Teen Writing of 2011! Having just recently arrived in New York City to begin studies for her master’s degree at The New School, Alexandra joined me on the Scholastic Greenhouse terrace to share her thoughts.

Loretta Lopez: THE BIG IDEA.

Today we bring you the second installment of THE BIG IDEA with writer and alum Loretta Lopez! Loretta, a Guadalajara native, was a 2010 Gold Medal Writing Portfolio recipient and the editor of The Best Teen Writing of 2013. Currently residing in Austin, TX, watch the video above to hear this young alum talk about her inspiration, current projects and a sometimes collaborative creative process!

You can also take a look at Loretta’s tips for staying cool and creative in the summer months HERE!


Elevated Place by Brandon Brooks, 2014 Gold Medal Art Portfolio

Nathan Cummings and Brandon Brooks rely on the natural world for inspiration and to create, dazzle, and amaze their audiences.  Movement—whether it’s the unexpected flow of bent wood or the harmony of sound, tongue and teeth to pronounce a single word—also plays a central role.

Explains Nathan:  “I am a devotee of the arcane and bizarre: my writing includes pieces on phantom fish, conjoined twins, and the sheer improbability of the word syzygy (SIZZ-uh-GEE). This is my “normal,” the gear at which I’m used to operating.”

In astronomy, syzygy– the alignment of four planets– is a rare and fascinating occurrence. But for this poet, the process of saying the word and envisioning its reality stirred his imagination.  Can you see it as the planets spin below? Read More


Again and Again and Again (detail), 168” x 72” Adobe Photoshop, Digital Print, Polaroid / Emulsion Transfer

Country, family, community, beliefs, race, cultural norms and accepted behaviors: we are born into this world with many of these factors pre-determined for us. So what’s a teenager to do? As Portfolio Medalists Patrick Zapien and Jackson Trice see it, there’s just one choice: to rebel.

For Jackson, a born-and-bred Southerner, “I Should Be Leaving” deals with how she feel s about her place in the world, coming of age, and the natural urge to revolt that comes with it.

“It goes back to this central question I’ve posed for myself which is: what makes me want to rebel?” she reflects. “Perhaps it is in my blood. And perhaps, I dare to say, I am okay with it.” Read More


Flourish by Lisa Su (Colored pencil shavings, colored pencil lead, newspaper, coffee grounds)

Let’s face it: Artists and writers see the world a little differently. And it’s not just their keen powers of observation at work—their vision is coupled with a wild and sometimes unpredictable imagination. For artist Lisa Su, her work becomes a celebration of the ordinary that at once elevates and transforms it.

“We often overlook the value in everyday objects,” Lisa explains. By repurposing materials such as pencil shavings, eggshells and coffee filters, she says, “my work brings out the aesthetic qualities hidden within…so that they can transcend their original purpose, creating unique textures and atmospheres seemingly from another world.”

Emma Hastings admits that she feels very close the characters that emerge from her imagination, and that they feel very real to her. As she writes, in fact, they possess uncanny power:   “There was a moment in writing…these stories that one of the characters decided to change course and break from my plans, or bring up something pivotal that I hadn’t thought of before.” Sometimes, she adds, “it was a shock to see what they had in their heads.”

Here, we offer a glimpse of Lisa’s world view and the very real fictional characters that people Emma’s creative mind. To see and read more, visit Read More

2014-06-06 SAWA Awards-206

The 2013 Class of National Student Poets (from the left: Nathan Cummings; Louis Lafair; Michaela Coplen; Sojourner Ahebee; Aline Dolinh) enjoy their time in New York City for the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Events.

We are still reeling from a dynamic and rich Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Events week in New York City! During the Events, the 2013 Class of National Student Poets led workshops with third and fourth graders at Harlem Academy, walked across Carnegie Hall’s legendary stage and presented their community service projects with passion at the Saturday Student Showcase at the Art.Write.Now.2014 National Exhibition, which took place at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons the New School for Design and Pratt Manhattan Gallery.  These exhibitions featured over 1,000 visual and literary award-winning works from students in grades 7 through 12. This week, the National Student Poets will join other accomplished youth poets at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, CO! Read More