Ashley Gong, age 15, of Sandy Hook, CT is a junior at Newtown High School and your Northeast Region National Student Poet representative! She grew up surrounded by language, as her parents, first generation immigrants, would often read Chinese poems to her when she was a toddler. Despite this early exposure to poetry, her first venture into writing came in the form of prose. It wasn’t until more recently that she discovered her passion for poetry, which is currently her go-to medium for creative expression. She has learned to always keep a pen at hand, as she can often be found bursting into spontaneous spurts of poetry at any given place or moment. A junior at Newtown High School, Ashley channels her love for writing, reading, reaching out, and leading into all aspects of her life, including instilling a love of Latin among middle school students.

Favorite Quote About Writing:

“Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.” -Neil Gaiman

Fun Fact:

“I draw upon a wide variety of topics for inspiration, including music, history, science, and even math.” Read More

pop upHave you ever been curious about what happens in an artist’s studio? Here’s your chance to find out! All week long, Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Alumnus, Harrison Love, is transforming the Scholastic Store main display with his artwork as part of the Art.Write.Now.POP UP! residency. From 10am – 6pm each day, Harrison will be creating art in front of a public audience, leaving 557 Broadway with a seriously stunning display by the end of the week (and it’s pretty cool right now, too).

Just yesterday, Harrison installed his studio at 557 Broadway and brought his new space to life for all of SoHo to see. Passers-by have been stopping watch Harrison create beautiful woodblock prints, and we can’t wait to see what’s next. If you can’t stop by and see what’s happening (but we hope you can!) make sure to follow the progress on the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Facebook page. Every day we’ll be adding new images of Harrison’s process. Read More

 

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a poetry reading in honor of the > 2014 National Student Poets (from left: Cameron Messinides,  Madeleine  > LeCesne, Ashley Gong, Julia Falkner and Weston Clark) in the Blue Room  > of the White House, Sept. 18, 2014. (Photo by Paul Morse for the  > National Student Poets Program)

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a poetry reading in honor of the 2014 National Student Poets (from left: Cameron Messinides, Madeleine LeCesne, Ashley Gong, Julia Falkner and Weston Clark) in the Blue Room of the White House, Sept. 18, 2014. (Photo by Paul Morse for the National Student Poets Program)

We are delighted to introduce Weston Clark, Julia Falkner, Ashley Gong, Madeline LaCense, and Cameron Messinides – the third annual class of literary ambassadors for the National Student Poets Program, the nation’s highest honor for young poets presenting original work. The program, a signature initiative of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, promotes and celebrates young people as makers and doers who can engage audiences of all ages in the art of poetry.

The five poets are currently in Washington DC for days full of poetry reading and hand shaking – a glimpse into the exciting year ahead!  Not only will they be reading their original works at the Library of Congress this afternoon, the poets had the pleasure of meeting First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday at the pinning ceremony.

We have a diverse group of voices in these young poets, and their passion for their craft is unmatched. It is going to be a true joy to see these five poets bring poetry to their communities in their own unique ways. Read more about the 2014 class of National Student Poets below:

 

 

West+Clark+NSPP_smallWeston Clark, Age 16; Indianapolis, IN; Midwest Region

Weston has been writing poetry since he was in first grade. He initially wrote Shel Silverstein–style poetry and has enjoyed exploring other styles, including free verse. Weston was born in Indianapolis and attends Park Tudor School. Although he lives in central Indiana, southern Indiana and the rolling red hills of Kentucky are his favorite places.

Through his writing, Weston tries to evoke emotions in people. He strongly agrees with Maya Angelou’s philosophy: People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

 

LeCesne_Madeleine2Madeleine LeCesne, Age 18; New Orleans, LA; Southwest Region

Madeleine is a senior at Lusher Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Madeleine began writing poetry when she was six years old, after her parents gave her an antique bed. Every night, her mother and father would find her crouched behind the headboard scribbling lines into the wood. Madeleine lost this work in 2005, when the headboard and her home were washed away by Hurricane Katrina. The city of New Orleans is her one great love. Gumbo is Madeleine’s identity: a stew of random fixings. She is Hispanic, Native American, and African American, and, because of her mixed bloodline, is interested in genealogy as well as the history of New Orleans. Madeleine’s work deals with unscrambling her identity. Among the writers she looks to for guidance are Anne Carson, Kimiko Hahn, and Anna Moschovakis.

 

Gong_Ashley_smallAshley Gong, Age 15; Sandy Hook, CT; Northeast Region

Ashley grew up surrounded by language, as her parents, first generation immigrants, would often read Chinese poems to her when she was a toddler. Despite this early exposure to poetry, her first venture into writing came in the form of prose. It wasn’t until more recently that she discovered her passion for poetry, which is currently her go-to medium for creative expression. She has learned to always keep a pen at hand, as she can often be found bursting into spontaneous spurts of poetry at any given place or moment. A junior at Newtown High School in Sandy Hook, CT, Ashley channels her love for writing, reading, reaching out, and leading into all aspects of her life. She’s the founder/president of the Latin Club, co-president of Global Voice (a human-rights club), and founder of the Newtown Middle School Latin Learning Program, which strives to instill a love for the Latin language in middle school students in her community.

 

Cameron MessinidesCameron Messinides, Age 17; Greenville, SC; Southeast Region

Cameron is seventeen years old and currently a creative writing student at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. He has been recognized with the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize, and his work has been published on The Atlantic’s website. He lives with his parents and five brothers and sisters, where, besides writing, he spends his time playing basketball, clumsily cooking dinner once a week, and helping raise the family goats.

 

Falkner_JuliaJulia Falkner, Age 17; Louisville, CO; West Region

Julia is seventeen years old and a senior at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colorado. Most of her work is about adolescence, gender, and vulnerability. She co-runs her high school’s Writers Society as well as editing and producing the school literary magazine. Additionally, she absorbs as much art as possible. In the coming year she hopes to start a film project, read the collected works of Shakespeare, and complete a science-fiction novel. When she isn’t writing, Julia keeps a loaded AP schedule, plays electric keyboards and guitar, and runs cross country for her high school. She also works as a barista.

 

Congratulations National Student Poets! And, if you are an aspiring teen poet, or know someone who is, enter the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards to be considered for the next class of National Student Poets. Winning a national medal in poetry is the singular path to become eligible for the program. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards call for submissions is open now, click here to enter!

From left: Executive Director and CEO of the National Constitution Center, Jeffrey Rosen; American National Tree Award recipient Isabelle Breier; ABC-TV journalist Nydia Han; and Alliance Senior Manager, National Programs, Scott Larner in front of the American National Tree Exhibition.

From left: Executive Director and CEO of the National Constitution Center, Jeffrey Rosen; American National Tree Award recipient Isabelle Breier; ABC-TV journalist Nydia Han; and Alliance Senior Manager, National Programs, Scott Larner in front of the American National Tree Exhibition.

This year’s M.R. Robinson National Constitution Center American National Tree Award invited rising 8th to 12th grade Gold Key recipients to write short biographical essays about 5 American activists, including: Albert Snyder, Edward Schempp, Bayard Rustin, Maya Angelou…and the incredible Nellie Bly!

For their efforts, one student receives a scholarship of $1,000 and an excerpt of their award-winning work is engraved on a brand-new leaf of the Constitution Center’s popular exhibit, the American National Tree.

More than 170 students heeded the call, and a panel from the 2013 National Student Poets Program picked their favorites for the National Constitution Center to review. One particular essay stood head and shoulders above the rest.

About a young female journalist, by a young female journalist, Isabelle Breier’s profile of Nellie Bly was inscribed on a leaf, bound on an historic tree, and celebrated this year on National Constitution Day, September 17 amid fanfare, photo opportunities and naturally, press coverage! Joining Isabelle and her family as a special guest, Philadelphia’s ABC-TV investigative reporter Nydia Han rounded out a trio of inspired and inspiring women writers; Executive Director and CEO of the National Constitution Center and the Alliance’s Senior Manager Scott Larner took part in the festivities as well. Read More

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!