Since 1923, the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, a nonprofit organization, has partnered with Scholastic, Inc. to present the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The mission of this group, as stated on their website, is "to recognize the vision, ingenuity, and talent of the nation’s youth and provide opportunities for creative teens to be celebrated." For decades, Sanford students have earned numerous awards at the regional, and sometimes, at the national levels. 2020 is no exception, as Finley Anderson '24 earned a National Gold Key Award for her photograph "Lost in a Dream." Additionally, "Caught in the Mess," a photograph by Cecilia Gao '24, earned a National Silver Key Award.
Finley explained that she likes to experiment with different lighting when she takes photographs. Her award-winning photograph, captured on her cell phone, was inspired by the light streaming through the blinds covering a classroom window. Finley took one of her first photos three years ago at Longwood Gardens, which remains an inspiring spot for her to use the tips she has learned from her Sanford photography class. Finley stated: "I was completely shocked when I Iearned that I had been selected for the award. I think it is one of the greatest honors a teenage who likes to take photos could get! During this time, I think it is super important to maintain our creativity, and I have been lucky to be able to explore Sanford’s beautiful campus and take some interesting photographs. I also like to write, and I spend time doing that, as well." Finley is active in clubs, such as the Pre-K Buddy Club and student council, and she also enjoys volleyball, soccer, and winter track. Perhaps, in the future, Finley will use her photography skills to capture special moments during these extracurricular activities.
Cecilia shared that her photograph, like Finley’s, was taken using her cell phone and was intended to express that everyone in modern society is identified by many descriptors, including: son, daughter, grandchild, and friend. She elaborated: "I think we are often restricted by our identity, which prevents us from doing what we really want to do. I hope that one day everyone can break through the 'net' and be who they want to be. I am especially grateful to Mrs. Silverman for her help with this project and to my parents for always encouraging me to do what I want to do. My mother is a designer, and I believe I may have inherited her understanding and passion for art. I have a very sensitive perception of colors, which I believe helped me to win this award."
With more than 110,000 students participating by entering over 320,000 works, Finley joins the 3,000—or 1%—of students across the country to earn the prestigious National Gold Key recognition. Typically, National Gold Key winners are celebrated with a special awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This year’s National Medalists will be honored with a virtual event on June 4th. The link for that, which is not currently active, is artandwriting.org/covid19.
Fortunately, the events planned for regional winners were held as planned. Gold Key winners and their families were invited to a special recognition ceremony and display on February 8, 2020, at Delaware State University. Silver Key and Honorable Mention winners were recognized during their division’s morning meetings. The Sanford awardees are:
Finley Anderson '24: Gold Key, Photography, "Molly"
Finley Anderson '24: Gold Key, Photography, "Lost In A Dream"
Finley Anderson '24: Honorable Mention, Photography, "Beyond The Fence"
Bing Zhang Chen '21: Silver Key, Digital Art, "Future"
Nica Curland '24: Gold Key, Photography, "Upstream Battle"
Samara Durgadin '21: Gold Key, Digital Art, "Through the Looking Glass"
Samara Durgadin '21: Honorable Mention, Mixed Media, "Movement"
Ava Galasso '24: Gold Key, Photography, "blonde, laying, hair"
Cecilia Gao '24: Gold Key, Photography, "Caught in the Mess"
Cecilia Gao '24: Gold Key, Photography, "Friday Night Seduction"
Molly Handloff '24: Gold Key, Photography, "Going Down the Rabbit Hole"
Aisha Hefnawi '22: Silver Key, Digital Art, "Streets Crossover"
Scarlett Helmecki '24: Silver Key, Photography, "Fruit of the Dogwood"
Scarlett Helmecki '24: Silver Key, Photography, "Whirlwind"
Makayla Keller ’24: Gold Key, Photography, "Rainbow Chapel"
Makayla Keller '24: Honorable Mention, Photography, "Beached"
Alex Liu '24: Honorable Mention, Photography, "Smell"
Ava McCoy-Johnson '22: Silver Key, Painting, "Move."
Savannah Shepherd '22: Silver Key, Painting, "El alma de mi identitad"
Elijah Smith '25: Gold Key, Photography, "Size 9"
Elijah Smith '25: Silver Key, Photography, "The Last Leaf"
Elijah Smith '25: Silver Key, Photography, "Can't Get A Grip"
Aaron White '20: Gold Key, Digital Art, "The Wrath of Todd."
As always, the Sanford Art Department is to be congratulated for using so many mediums to nurture and develop the many talents of Sanford’s young artists. We are certainly very proud of Finley and Cecilia, and we also congratulate all of the students who earned any form of recognition in this year’s Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. Thank you to the middle and upper division art instructors for shepherding their students through this process and encouraging them to showcase their talents.