Students capture recognition in the Scholastic Art Awards

Eight Upper School students won Silver and Gold Keys in the 2019 Scholastic Art Awards.

Eight Sacred Heart Greenwich Upper School students captured the recognition of the 2019 Scholastic Art Awards.  Juniors Mia Cesare, Hannah Dempsey, Sydney Duncan and sophomores Michaela (Mimi) Greco and Julia Fonti won Silver Keys for their photography.  Seniors Eliza Stanley and Arielle Uygur won Silver Keys for their visual art, and senior Kara Hodge won a Gold Key for her painting.  Their prints appeared in an exhibit at The Hartford Art School of the University of Hartford January 26. 

Public, private, and home-school students in the United States, Canada, and American schools around the globe can submit artwork to the Scholastic Awards, according to  The program is open to artists in seventh through twelfth grade.

Upon receiving submissions, judges evaluate the artists’ use of originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision, according to  The jurors of the competition change every year, according to Ms. Kev Filmore, Upper School Photography Teacher. 

Each photographer implemented unique techniques in creating their award-winning pieces.  Mia captured her photo on a digital camera and used Adobe Photoshop to alter the tint of the photo.  Her inspiration was Ms. Filmore’s project to photograph family within the home.  Her image portrays her family watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, New York. 

I just like to see the students take a chance and enter their best work.

— Ms. Kev Filmore, Upper School Photography Teacher

Hannah’s image focused on using shadows and colors to enhance a normal scene from her home.  After taking the photograph on a digital camera, she made adjustments in Adobe Photoshop to add a slight filter and make the shadows more distinct.  Hannah has submitted her work to the Scholastic Art Awards once before, but this is her first recognition.  She credits Ms. Filmore as the influence that pushed her to experiment with more photos of everyday life. 


“The photography department at Sacred Heart, specifically Ms. Filmore, inspired me to take more and more pictures at home of daily actions,” Hannah said. 

Sydney also used a digital camera to photograph her winning piece.  She adjusted the print in Adobe Photoshop and decided to use a black and white filter for her final product. 

2019 was the first year Mimi submitted her work to the Scholastic Awards.  She took the photo on a digital camera, editing the final product with a black and white filter.

“I think what really made it special was the black and white aspect,” Mimi said.  “I was inspired to change the original colored piece that I was going to submit to black and white after Ms. Filmore showed us the work of some photographers she had discovered.  I found the most powerful ones to be those that were in black and white and ended up changing my original work.”

Julia Fonti ’22 used a black and white filter to highlight her grandfather in her award-winning photo “Nonno.”  Julia Fonti ’22

Julia’s photograph “Nonno,” Italian for “grandfather,” won a Silver Key.  She altered the photo in Photoshop to direct attention to the subject of the photo. 

“I edited the photo by choosing to make it black and white and then adjusting the different levels of color in the photo allowing for the darker and lighter shades to balance and help emphasize the focal point of the picture, my grandfather,” Julia said.

Although students have won Scholastic Awards for photography in the past, five Silver Keys is more than Ms. Filmore expected. 

“This always sheds positive light on the class and program, as well as the students,” Ms. Filmore said.  “It is optional to enter this competition, but I just like to see the students take a chance and enter their best work.  It is one of the best competitions and is very well respected.” 

Eliza won a Silver Key in the category for Drawing and Illustration “Moving Pieces No. 1.”  Her inspiration came from a vintage meat grinder that she directly observed during class.  Mrs. Paula Westcott, Upper School Art Teacher, had the object in her art room for students to draw.  Eliza executed her interpretation of the meat grinder using willow charcoal. 

Arielle’s painting “Boots” earned her a Silver Key.  She modeled the painting after a photo she took while visiting a cowboy boot shop in Texas.  To capture the intricate detail of the photo, she used acrylic paint and very small paint brushes.  Her goal in recreating the image on canvas was to accurately represent the colorful features of the photo.

“Something important to me while painting this was making it as realistic as possible, to do that I paid special attention to the shadows to achieve the variations of depth was apparent in the picture,” Arielle said.

Kara Hodge ’20 first created an underpainting for her work “Sunbathing,” later adding an acrylic glaze to finish the piece.  Sydney Gallop ’20

Kara’s piece “Sunbathing” won a Gold Key in the Painting Category.  She created the painting on acrylic and began by creating an underpainting, using monochrome colors to draft the general idea of the final product.  She then used acrylic glaze, also known as extender, to make the paint translucent.  This step allowed her to paint over the underpainting.  Next, she added multiple thin layers of glaze paint to perfect the color and texture she desired.  Her last step was to add small details to make the painting appear more realistic. 

Kara appreciates the artistic independence she received from Sacred Heart’s Art Department. 

“I feel really honored and proud of myself to have won this award, especially because I put a lot of time and effort into creating my painting,” Kara said.  “The studio art department has helped me tremendously.  Mrs. Westcott has encouraged me to embrace my creativity, and she helped me discover my personal artistic voice and style.”

Featured Image by Caroline Baranello ’20