Emmaus sweeps Scholastic Art Awards


“Florida Man” by Mandy Zhang.

Cyan Kvacky, Culture Contributor

This previously ran in our February 2023 issue. 

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is a prestigious opportunity for creative students to showcase their talents for possible scholarships and resume builders.

 The Scholastic Art Awards is the longest running art award in the United States and is the most prestigious award for creative teens. 

One can win a gold “key” a silver “key” or an honorable mention. Gold key is the highest award and only two Emmaus students received this highly prestigious award for their hard work and dedication within the art department this year.

The art department is constantly overlooked in favor of the more “academic” areas, like STEM subjects. The awards and submission process for “Scholastics,” as the art department calls it, gives students with different passions and skills a chance to be celebrated and rewarded for their efforts.

There are three stages of awards that Scholastics gives out, the highest being a gold key. One of the gold key winners is senior Madison Miller.

“The process was tedious, and fun; I did take it home to Sauter over the weekend, and I come in on A days,” she said, describing the amount of time she poured into her piece.

Miller is in the course Crafts 3. She created her stained glass lamp shade after her teacher, Katie Pfenninger, assigned the project to her students. Pfenninger let them choose what they wanted to create; their only limitation was that it needed to involve stained glass.

 Stained glass is an intense project and requires a large amount of work and knowledge of the process. To successfully make a stained glass piece, it requires a lot of glass tools, and a lot of solder; it is a time consuming process. 

Pfenninger is a dedicated teacher with a class of Crafts 2 & 3 students that she absolutely dotes on; she is very proud of Miller’s work.

“An intense amount of work, exceptional craftsmanship, and dedication to her vision,” Pfenninger said.

Every student in a higher level art class has to submit to Scholastics; it’s a required project for a grade in the second marking period as the submission date ends in January. 

Another talented Emmaus High School artist, senior Mandy Zhang, submitted multiple pieces to the awards; three of her pieces received a gold key, with one exceptional work of art winning not only a gold key but also an American Visions Nomination. 

“It’s really big, it’s like 22-by-30, it took me about a month, a month and a half. In all it was about a month and a half of work over 6 months of time,” Zhang said.

Her art journey started early, when as a freshman, she skipped foundations and went straight to drawing and painting. She credits art teacher Tracy Maley for helping her make that jump.

“She definitely supported me during freshman year when I skipped foundations,” Zhang said.

Mandy also hones her artistic skill by attending the Baum School of Art and cites the educators there as supporters as well. 

Gold keys are a prestigious honor, especially as an artist; artists put a little bit of themselves into their pieces and by doing so this award extends to them.

“It’s obviously a really high honor to win a gold key; it also shows recognition of my work, and it’s more opportunities to go into different careers.”

Zhang remarks that when she won her gold key, her piece, “Symphony of Land, Sea, and Sky,” was immediately submitted into a higher competition. 

Zhang hopes to attend Ringling College of Art and Design and to major in computer animation.

Zhang biggest piece, “Symphony of Land, Sea, and Sky,” was the piece that was submitted to the American Visions Nominee.

Side blurb: “I’d say it is a surrealist art piece, that can be interpreted any way possible, for most of my pieces I try not to assign to much meaning to them, so I can allow the

viewer to interpret it the way they want to,” said Zhang.

This piece features a realistic woman’s face and other animals and elements of nature, it is an extremely detailed piece for the large scale it was created on.

Students are motivated not only by their desire to create incredible art within their time in the art department, but also the potential to win cash prizes and scholarship opportunities, as well as providing the program with prestige and giving educators a chance to be recognized for their talent and dedication.