Dylicious Jones by Ellie Braun, age 17, Grade 12. 2014 Gold Medal, Art Portfolio.

Today we share with you the work of Jack Rayson and Ellie Braun. Both Medalists gravitate to things discovered and experienced in our youth. While talking about childhood and adolescence, Jack explains “There are so many experiences to be had, experiences that cannot yet be expressed in words, and I think those indescribable moments of discovery or realization are the purest moments because they escape language.” Ellie is “inspired to place an emphasis on human sexuality and gender identity through my investigation of adolescents changing their physical appearance.”

Jack and Ellie truly encompass our criteria of originality and technical skill, and bring a genuine and honest personal voice and vision to their work, even when the subject matter can be difficult to address. Take a look at more of their work below! Read More


Renal by Madison Brownson. Age 17, Grade 12. 2014 Gold Medal, Art Portfolio.

Hanel Baveja and Madison Brownson both create to help bring a new level of awareness to our lives and our bodies. While Hanel’s “greatest hope for my work is that my poems strike a chord of shared existence” with her readers, Madison’s “hope is to make the viewer pause and realize the beautiful complexity of their own anatomy or the world around them.” Both artists aim to awaken their audience to the intricacies of the world we share.

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is a selection from Hanel’s Award-winning portfolio, comprised entirely of poetry! You can also see more of Madison’s plush organs below!

When Clark’s Ice Cream Parlor first opened

Combinations we’d never even dreamed of.
Names too long to remember:
Dark chocolate ice cream with raspberry
cheesecake pieces and caramel bonbons,
sweet cream ice cream with bumbleberry
compote and jordan almond fudge chunks. Read More

Tyra A

Tyra Abraham, Drops of Life

The spark of genius, the burst of inspiration…where and how do they begin? This spring we will profile our 2014 Portfolio Gold Award Medalists and let you draw your own conclusions! Without further ado, please meet our inaugural pair: artist Tyra Abraham and writer Jonathan Gelernter.

Tyra Abraham is from New York City and attends high school at the Hewitt School. “The work I submitted for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is based on the theme of vulnerability. This project represents my most personal and sentimental work. It also embodies my journalistic approach to taking photographs. I cannot think of another set of images that epitomizes my style of photography, and for this reason, I submitted it for this competition.

For me, photography serves as an outlet for my creativity. I love wandering around New York City and exploring new neighborhoods. At school, I am a photographer for the yearbook and the student newspaper. I take photos of a variety of school events ranging from sports games to concerts to portraits of the faculty and students. My camera is like my personal journal; I carry it almost everywhere and document my surroundings. It’s rare to not see me with a camera hanging around my neck. Photography is deeply personal and can sometimes be more effective than writing.” Read More

WNYC Radio host Brian Lehrer

WNYC Radio host Brian Lehrer

Write. Rewrite. Stop.

These three words, dispensed tersely from award-winning radio-journalist and WNYC Radio host Brian Lehrer, comprise his best advice for teen writers and especially for all of you who plan to enter the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. To elaborate a bit—just a bit—here are his tips:


  • Write every day. If you want to make it at something, do it all the time.
  • Write long, write medium, write short….but keep writing.
  • Write along with your life. Write about the mundane things that happen in your day and you’ll wind up finding meaning in them that you didn’t know was there until the writing made you start to think.
  • Write about things outside your life:  Notice the things that capture your interest. Make a note of what they are.  Write about why THAT made you stop and think. Then check ‘em out more fully (see next tip!).

Read More

October 3 AYAW Book Launch[3]

On October 3rd, we partied like it was 2013—The Best Teen Writing of 2013, to be specific! Our book launch party for the newest edition of our annual anthology of Award-winning writing featured guest host, WNYC Radio host Brian Lehrer, who interviewed Loretta López, 2010 Portfolio Gold Medalist and the book’s Editor. Here’s a brief excerpt:

In your introduction you write about the role of technology today and our quick access to information. Can you speak more about that?
A lot of our experiences right now are very passive, about just watching. What I love about this book is that every writer in this book took the time to sit down, face themselves and pay attention; be frustrated in the process of writing and I like that.

Did you find frustration in the writing process? You told me you are writing a novel. What is your approach to writing?
I realized a while ago that if you just wait for inspiration to hit you you’re going to wait a long time. I write every day for at least two hours– I force myself and set my alarm. Then I go out and see people, return and dive back into a fantastical world I’m creating. Read More

Sam Duffy (center) at the National Constitution Center, with his dad Christopher (left) and the Alliance’s Senior Manager of National Programs, Scott Larner

2013 Scholastic Awards winner Sam Duffy (center) at the National Constitution Center, with his dad Christopher (left) and the Alliance’s Senior Manager of National Programs, Scott Larner

In 1870, a distinguished gentleman from Mississippi was duly elected to the US Senate. But when he presented his credentials in Washington, he was less than warmly welcomed. Why? Less than 5 years after the end of the Civil War, Hiram Rhodes Revels was the 1st African-American to serve in this post!

On September 17, 2013, Revels made history again by becoming a high-tech “leaf” on National Constitution Center’s popular exhibit, The American National Tree. The 15-year-old young man who wrote an essay to honor him, Sam Duffy (2013 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Key winner), chose him precisely because of the obstacles Revels faced:

“It is fitting that Senator Revels is recognized here at the U.S. Constitution Center, because when Hiram Revels was being proposed as the first African American senator of the United States, his opponents challenged his capacity by making constitutional arguments about his citizenship because of his race. I was born in New York City in 1998, and I have boundless freedoms as a native-born American citizen, but when my great uncle John Kim was a graduate student in Missouri in the 1950s, he was not allowed to go into restaurants, hotels and bathrooms because he was not white.” Read More