The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
serve as a 100-year-old celebration of student achievement in written and visual arts. Judges select winners from a pool of hundreds of entries from the United States and Canada, searching for the most creative and passionate works of art and writing. Branksome students Sylvia, Jenny, Mani and Cindy each submitted two of their best works to the competition in the hopes that the judges would honour their creativity with an award.
The passion and motivation of these young artists and writers was long in the making, with each building upon their love for their craft over the years leading up to the 2023 Awards. Sylvia, Grade 10 student and author of The Hunger of Harmony, describes how she began writing: “In the fifth grade, I had this assignment for English class to write a speech. I distinctly remember getting my paper back with so much criticism, it looked like it was dipped in red ink. I made it my mission to improve from then on.” Sylvia and the other students saw their hard work pay off in ways they could never imagine.
When the results came in, the entrants and their mentors were delighted to see that their works were indeed rewarded, with each submission receiving an accolade. The students received four golds, one silver and three honourable mentions for their works in Poetry, Personal Essay and Memoir, Science Fiction and Fantasy and Digital Art. Even more impressive is that this is the greatest amount of awards Branksome Hall has received from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in the history of its submissions.
Grade 11 student Mani, recipient of the Gold Key Award for her poem “Just take ’em”, speaks about the experience as a young artist: “It is very rewarding to be recognized for something that is uniquely yours, because in regular subjects your creativity isn’t normally assessed.” Mani’s work was born when during a 10-minute exercise in an English class, she wrote an entire poem based on a line from a Saturday Night Live skit. “Just take ’em” explores the benefits and consequences of treating mental illness with medication as most patients are instructed to simply consume medications with no regard to their possible side effects.
Grade 12 student Cindy Han, author of Silver Key Award-winning personal essay Anatomy of a Flower, explains why it is important for young artists to put their work out into the world: “My favourite part about writing is having the freedom to be creative and to express something that may be otherwise challenging to communicate. In both of my pieces I touched on aspects that are very personal, and I think creative writing allows me to share these very intimate emotions, as well as experiences, with others.”
The awards won are listed as follows:
Sylvia Zhang, Grade 10:
I Want 'Normal' Eyes–Honorable Mention (Digital Art)
The Hunger of Harmony—Gold Key (Science Fiction & Fantasy)
Mani Williams, Grade 11:
“Just take 'em”—Gold Key (Poetry)
“Mirages”—Honorable Mention (Poetry)
Jenny Chen, Grade 11:
Summer of my Memory: Drive-in Theatre—Gold Key (Digital Art)
Anima of Death—Gold Key (Digital Art)
Cindy Han, Grade 12:
Anatomy of a Flower—Silver Key (Personal Essay & Memoir)
A eulogy to fall, a love letter to spring—Honorable Mention (Personal Essay & Memoir)
Congratulations to Sylvia, Jenny, Mani and Cindy for their incredible accomplishments, and thank you to Mr. Labriola and Ms. Strimas for supporting the students through the process. We look forward to the publication of the 2023 issue of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards coming out later this year.