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

Zac Henning

ASPCP member Khalil Abdellah. Photo Credit Zac Henning

Guest post by Sam Reed

Imagine a place where young men are allowed to connect with their passion for rap music, video games, comics, movies, poetry, sci-fi, and what have you. Imagine a space where boys from diverse communities work alongside emerging rappers, game designers, filmmakers, and established poets and artists. For over 60 boys who participated in the Boys Write Now workshops in Philadelphia this summer, these connected learning spaces became a reality.

In August, I helped organize a series of writing workshops for boys in grades 7-12 in collaboration with the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and their regional affiliate partner the Philadelphia Writing Project. Check out the pre-workshop video below, which was filmed and edited by Tessa Kerpan, a senior film major attending Creative and Performance Arts High School in Philadelphia. Read More

Deanna Miller. The line began to blur between her fantasy world and her real world. But sometimes, just sometimes, there was an air of symmetry between the two. 2012 Gold Key, Digital Art.

Deanna Miller. The line began to blur between her fantasy world and her real world. But sometimes, just sometimes, there was an air of symmetry between the two. Grade 12, Age 17. 2012 Gold Key, Digital Art.

In a recent blog post, Start.Write.Now: Fantastic Journeys, we featured the 2013 Gold Medal-winning Science Fiction/Fantasy story, The Lions’ Den. After reading and relishing it, we couldn’t help asking ourselves once again: how did she do it? Seeking a satisfactory answer, we went right to the source: 18-year-old author and Texas native Mary Elizabeth Dubois. Check out our Q & A with her below. And flex your fantastic imaginations and fingers, because the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards launches on Monday, September 16!

What inspired you to choose this genre to write Lions’ Den?
I am usually inspired to write when I am in the middle of a crowd. The idea for my submitted piece, “The Lions’ Den,” came to me in the middle of a crowded pizza shop in New York City. I don’t need time, space, or comfort to write. All I need is an idea and my iPhone notepad app. Coffee and Earl Grey tea don’t hurt, either.

As far as the science fiction genre goes, I knew this theme needed to come across as futuristic in order to appear relevant and be understood. I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of the marching man. The man who continuously strives to better himself and create a peaceful world in which to live, and yet, comes to the end of his life realizing he has created nothing. Read More

Daniel Lion

Daniel in the Lion’s Den by Briton Riviere (1840-1920), painted in 1892.

Just the Facts: The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards’ Science Fiction/Fantasy Category includes writing that uses supernatural, magical, futuristic, scientific, and technological themes as a key element of the plot. All teens in 7-12 grade are invited to submit works of 600-3,000 words to the 2014 Scholastic Awards beginning September 16.
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The genre of fantasy allows a writer to travel through time, revisit ancient tales and reset them in the future, give voice to the outlandish and stretch our abilities to imagine and believe in the story we are being told. In “The Lions’ Den,” Mary Elizabeth Dubois (2013 Gold Medalist) soars back to biblical times for inspiration, and uses the apocryphal episode in which Daniel is placed in grave danger because he worships God. See if her re-imagining rings true for you—or at the very least, weaves its own magical web!

The Lions’ Den
Walking was such a treacherous thing.
She had been walking and walking and walking since she was a small child. Barely breathing, they taught her to walk. Before she learned how to eat or say her name, she was taught to walk.
Always walking.
Treacherous, treacherous walking. Read More

Lara Candland Asplund

Lara Candland Asplund is a writer, musician, librettist, feminist and writing-teacher-mentor to many Scholastic Award-winning writers including Portfolio Gold Medalist Mackenzie Jacoby and 2013 Portfolio Gold Key winner Sid Peery. We asked her to share her inspiration, and she sat right down and wrote you all a letter!
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Dear Artists and Writers,

The most successful artists know a really good secret: you’re a lot more productive when you’re having fun, when your alpha waves are flowing. Here are some tips for learning how to mine your summer creativity to keep you going all year! Read More

Stephanie Carlisle. A World of Your Own Making. Grade 12, Age 17. 2013 Gold Medal, Mixed Media.

Stephanie Carlisle. A World of Your Own Making. Grade 12, Age 17. 2013 Gold Medal, Mixed Media.

This week, our SoHo office has earned an extra “t”: SOHOT. So we asked alum Loretta Lopez, editor of this year’s The Best Teen Writing (to be released in the fall) and native of Guadalajara, to share her ideas for keeping cool and creative during this sultry season.  Read on, while you sip your iced chai or lemonade! Have ideas on how to stay creative this summer? Tweet them to @artandwriting using #StartWriteNow or post them on our Facebook page!

Trust chance
Go to a nearby library, bookstore, or even a shelf in your house. Run your fingers over the spines of books (perhaps with your eyes closed) and when one feels right, choose it.  Split it open and read the first paragraph that you lay your eyes on. Then, write a scene that either follows or precedes the occurrences of the paragraph you just read. Read More