Student writers and artists receive recognition in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards


Caterina Pye '23

Forty-one Sacred Heart students receive recognition in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Forty-one Upper and Middle School students at Sacred Heart Greenwich received a total of 56 awards in the 2021 Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.  The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is the longest-running and most reputable awards and recognition program for teenagers in the United States, according to  Among the Upper School winners, sophomore Gabrielle Wheeler earned a Silver Key in the poetry category as well as a Gold Key for her poem, “Spelling is Fun Until it E-N-D-S,” advancing her to the national competition.  As a part of the film and animation category, Scholastic awarded junior Elisa Taylor with a Gold Key and an American Visions Award nomination for her film “Dream Sequence,” making her one of only five students from the region up for consideration at the national level for an American Visions Medal.

Along with Gabrielle’s Gold and Silver Key win, 12 other Upper School students earned awards, including Silver Key winners senior Grace Coale, junior Marguerite Lee, and freshman Sam Mecane.  Additionally, Scholastic awarded 11 Honorable Mention awards to seniors Lianna Amoruso and Natalie Dosmond, juniors Elisa Taylor, Catriona Marangi, Claire Moore, Marguerite Lee, and Angélique Wheeler, sophomores Kenza Aissaoui, Nouha Aissaoui, and Gabrielle Wheeler, and freshman Lindsay Taylor for their writing pieces.

In the art portion of the competition, senior Lily Santangelo and junior Jules Ingram both won Gold Keys for their photographs.  In addition to the Gold Key winners, four Upper School students also gained recognition for their artwork.  Junior Caroline Bennett won a Silver Key for her image “Homelessness in Guatemala,” as did junior Julia Fonti for her photo “Nonna.”  Senior Sydney O’Connor‘s painting “Afloat” and sophomore Molly Parker’s image “Sophie” earned Honorable Mention awards.

Gabrielle Wheeler ’23 advances to the national competition after receiving a Gold Key for her poem in the Scholastic Writing Awards.  Gabrielle Wheeler ’23

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards accepts submissions from all students in seventh grade to twelfth grade in schools across the United States, Canada, and U.S. territories.  Jurors choose the award-winners based on the region in which the student lives, and any students who win a Gold Key for their work advance to the national competition, placing them in the running for a National Scholastic Award, according to  Scholastic invites any students who earn recognition regionally with a Gold Key, Silver Key, or Honorable Mention award to their regional ceremony, which will be held virtually this year.  

The Hudson-to-Housatonic region, which includes the submissions from Sacred Heart students and students from other schools in neighboring counties, receives over 1,700 submissions every year, according to  Students can submit their work to a total of 28 art and writing categories, including journalism, photography, and dramatic script.

Gabrielle’s Gold Key-winning poem, “Spelling is Fun Until it E-N-D-S,” was based on a memory created through journaling.  She explained her process of journaling, where she writes down her memories and creates stories by adding fictional elements.  

“I wrote ‘Spelling is Fun Until it E-N-D-S’ about a memory from second grade,” Gabrielle said.  “I decided to try cathartic journaling a year ago and this was one of the first things I wrote about.  It really helps to think about the past and then let it go.  Once I’m done with writing down a memory I spend a lot of time away from it and I eventually come back to it and add some fictional aspects.  It really helps to think about my memories and analyze them as a writer would analyze character development.  It helps to focus on certain memories a lot and then put them in the past by writing about them.  Finishing a piece is like coming to terms with the past and letting it go.”

Ms. Kev Filmore, Upper School Photography Teacher, encourages her students in the photography electives to submit their work to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards every year.  She prepares her students for the Scholastic Awards and other competitions through the course curriculum.

I design the projects we work on to build the ability to see and tell stories,” Ms. Fillmore said.  “We work on composition and what makes a strong image inviting and memorable.  Awards were given to a variety of kinds of pictures, but they all share a common visual language that helps to draw the viewer in.  I am very proud of all the students who enter and am happy to have their work recognized and seen.”

Jules Ingram ’22 receives a Gold Key for her photograph, “Breakfast With The King.”  Courtesy of Jules Ingram ’22

Sophomore Molly Parker reflected on how she applied what she learned in photography class to her award-winning work. 

In photography we learn a lot about focus when taking portraits,” Molly said.  “So when taking this picture during quarantine, the idea of focusing in on the mirror and the person’s reflection in it was the first thing I really wanted in my photo.  When I showed it to Ms. Filmore we both really liked how you got a clear view of my sister through the mirror but also got to see a bit more in the background. I think you get more of an insight into her life that way which I thought was cool.”

As some of the youngest eligible students in the contest, Sacred Heart Middle School students gathered 38 writing awards overall, including seven Gold Keys.  Mr. Marc Maier, Middle School English Teacher and Middle School English Department Chair, encourages his students to submit at least one piece with the possibility of having their work exposed in the writing world, and not just the classroom. 

One of the basic pillars of the writing workshop curriculum is that students think and act like authors, creating pieces of writing that have life beyond the immediate assignment or grade received,” Mr. Maier said.  “The Scholastic Writing Awards provide a great opportunity for students to put their writing out into the world to be read by many others, encouraging them to think about a wider audience than just their English teacher.  This tends to foster a more thoughtful and thorough engagement with the entire writing process, which dovetails nicely with the primary goals of our writing program in the middle school in general.”

Mr. Maier explained how the foundations of the English curriculum give Sacred Heart students an advantage in the Scholastic Writing Awards.  He described how his students’ eagerness and devotion to produce high quality writing pieces contributes to the success in the Middle School.   

“The success our student writers have achieved in the Scholastic Writing Awards over the years is due to the strength of the writing workshop curriculum in the middle and lower schools,” Mr. Maier said.  “They are skilled in the hard work of revision and crafting their words, and this foundation is what leads to the consistent success our middle school students have achieved in the Scholastic Writing Awards over the past decade.”

This article includes updated information since its original publication date of February 17, 2021. The original article did not include the information on Elisa Taylor’s awards.

Featured Image by Caterina Pye ’23