The Scholastic Awards: A Competition for Creative Teens

Lindsey Pease, Staff Writer

Posters advertising The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have popped up all around Summit, but what exactly is this creative competition?

The Scholastic Awards have annually awarded art and writing submitted by teens across the nation since the program was founded in 1923 by Maurice R. Robinson with the Scholastic Corporation. 

Students ages 13 and up can submit work in 28 different art and writing categories. 

“Students get to go through the process of showing and presenting finalized work,” said Myria Gautreaux, an art teacher at Summit. “There’s also the measurement factor of seeing if you do win an award. That gives you the confirmation of a jury recognizing your work.”

Nominated entries are recognized on either the regional or national level. 

Regional awards include the Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention, American Visions Nominee, and American Voices Nominee Awards. 

National awards include the Gold Medal, Silver Medal with Distinction, Silver Medal, and scholarship awards. Gold Keys won at the regional level are considered for national awards, too.

Robinson formulated the awards on the basis of what he felt were the most important aspects of the judging process. Not only is judgment blind, and anonymity of submissions guaranteed, but the Scholastic Awards also believe in complete freedom of expression. 

No work is disqualified on the basis of it’s content. 

“[The Scholastic Awards] insure to a wide group of future citizens, regardless of vocation, a sense of the power of independent thought and an appreciation of the beauty and wonder of existence,” Robinson said in 1930. 

The awards still promote this importance of individualism for young people more than ninety years later.

The rest of the criteria are as follows: originality, technical skill, and emergence of a personal vision or voice.

Nominated students are honored in a New York City ceremony, as well as with Scholastic publications and exhibitions across the region. The Scholastic Awards website has access to award-winning publications from years past.

Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, and Amanda Gorman are among the Scholastic Awards’ most notable alumni.

Summit writers can participate in the Region-at-Large West Writing portion of the competition, across 10 different categories including essays, poems, short stories, and more. This portion is presented by The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, founded in 1994 to administer the Scholastic Awards.

Visual artists at Summit can participate across 15 different categories, ranging from painting to film. The Pacific Northwest College of Art at Willamette University presents the Oregon Art Region portion of the competition.

Summit students participate in the Scholastic Awards every year.

“I don’t know the numbers,” Gautreaux said. “But I feel like it’s in the hundreds. Hundreds of pieces.”

The deadline for the Region-at-Large West Writing competition is December 6, 2021, and entries for the Oregon Art Region competition are due January 6, 2022.

Each individual entry costs $7, but fees can be waived if they hinder the artist’s ability to participate in the awards. 

“There is a needs based waiver available for everybody,” said Gautreaux.

If you’ve missed this year’s deadline, don’t stress. The competition is held annually, and submissions for the 99th annual Scholastic Awards open September of 2022, so you can still participate.