Scholastic honors exceptional art


Graphic and studio art students from SHS and SIS set a record for the number of awards that they received within 2016’s Scholastic Art Awards.

The Scholastic Art Awards competition is one of the longest-running and most prestigious contests for high school artists. Since 1923, Scholastic has recognized students for their talents in numerous categories including architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, fashion and animation.

“The art is judged by people from the art museum, and there are three levels of awards: Gold Keys, the highest honor, Silver Keys and Honorable Mentions,” said Jessica Mohagen, art teacher. “The Gold Keys move on [to] the nationals, where the works of art are judged in New York.”

This year, Shorewood students from all grades managed to win 42 awards. There were 10 Gold Keys, nine Silver Keys, 20 Honorable Mentions, and three Senior Portfolio Awards.

“We had almost 70 students apply, and of those students, 42 winners,” said Jeffrey Zimpel, art department chair. “The 70 students were all enrolled in an art class, and the winners were mostly seniors, but there were also juniors, sophomores and we even had some freshmen.”

“For a school of our size, the number of students who have received awards this year is amazing; we’re definitely well represented.” Mohagen said.

Among the winners were Elena Cruz, Clarence Corbett-Soza, Marie Matthias, James Hillard, Morgan Florsheim, Cole Falkner, Eliana Wasserman, Kayla Wasserman, Celeste Carroll, Hazel Pritchard, Hana Schofield, Nick Nesler, seniors, Lundyn Opuiyo, Patrick Quinan, Chris Zak, Tyler Pelzek, Luis Roche, juniors, Kateri Hade and Jack Tetting, freshman.

All AP art students were highly encouraged to submit their work to the Scholastic Art Awards board, and while other classes were not required to send in their art, many students still did.

(Elena Cruz) A woman studies Scholastic award-winning photographs by Cole Falkner, senior. SIS and SHS students set a record for the number of awards they received this year.

“The art teacher, Mrs. Mohagen, really encouraged me to send in my work,” said Kayla Wasserman, senior and winner of three Honorable Mentions.

Both Zimpel and Mohagen also compelled their non-AP students to submit their artwork as well.

“I was doing a quick assignment when Zimpel saw it,” said Jack Tetting, freshman and winner of a Silver Key.  “He suggested that I submit it for the Scholastic Art Awards.”

After talking to potential candidates, both art teachers met and analyzed works that they believe should be recommended to the judging committee.

“Mrs. Mohagen and I sit down and … show each other the candidates. We have three piles: absolutely, probably and questionable,” Zimpel said. “From there, we go through the ‘probably’ and ‘questionable’ piles and decide which to send to the committee.”

While looking through the artwork, both teachers look for certain qualities that make award-worthy material.

“When recommending artwork [we look to see] whether it is quality work, professionally done, you can easily see the effort put into it,” Mohagen said. “Basically anything that has some depth to it, and that goes above and beyond.”

In previous years, each school had a limit to the number of pieces that could be sent to the judging committee; however, this year, the limit was removed.

“Last year, they made it so that there is no limit to how many artworks a school can send anymore,” Zimpel said, “There is a five dollar fee for submission, but it can be waived if you cannot afford it. Other than the artwork being unique and creative, … basically, anybody can enter.”

Besides the $5 fee, there are no cons to participating.

“Winning these awards is a great honor: you can get scholarships, you get a free [entrance] to the art museum, people come and want to buy work and it looks great on your resume,” Mohagen said.

For many students, it’s their first time winning an award.

“I participated last year too, but I didn’t get anything,” Wasserman said, “I was really proud and surprised when I found out I won.”

While both Zimpel and Mohagen encourage artists to participate in the Scholastic Awards next year, so do many student winners.

“The scholastic art awards are a way for students to improve their artwork and become better artists,” Tetting said. “I’m probably submitting works next year as well.”

While receiving an award is a great honor, it’s also highly challenging. The judging process for the Scholastic Art Awards is extremely competitive, with many works rejected. Out of the 3,000 submissions across the state, only 737 received awards. Not all states have have the same deadlines and I think more are submitted nationally

“I definitely think that some people, who I know had great, award-worthy works of art … didn’t get anything,” Florsheim said.

While the judging process is very competitive, in recent years, it has become even more rigorous, considering all aspects of the pieces.

“They now take all accounts of the art into consideration: the history, the design, etc.,” Zimpel said. “They lean toward a different theme each year; last year the theme seemed to be more technical, but this year, it was more about the concept and meaning of the artwork.”

Not only do the students receive awards, but they also have their artwork displayed at the Milwaukee Art Museum where visitors are able to walk around and look at their works of art. The official awards ceremony for the students was on February 6.

“There are many other awards that occur on that day of the showing,” Zimpel said, “There is the teacher’s award, where teachers vote on the best piece. Some companies even sponsor some scholarships, and there are many other things you can be awarded.”

Overall, both students and faculty are both amazed and proud of the number of awards received.

“I am blown away this year by the amount of students who won awards; we really upped our game, and I hope to keep that streak,” Zimpel said.

To view photos of more award-winning artwork by SIS and SHS students, go to

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