Five Palo Alto High School students received national awards in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition on Mar. 24, with 36 students receiving recognition at the state level.
After submitting pieces on Jan. 6 across 28 categories ranging from jewelry to video game design to short stories, students anxiously awaited results from the initial regional level judging — consisting of California and other west-coast states. Ultimately, 52 regional awards were brought in, thanks in part to photo teacher Margo Wixsom recognizing the importance of such competitions and making it a project.
“Submitting to the contest was actually an assignment for AP Studio Art,” senior Ross Cardillo said.
Art teacher Kate McKensie also encouraged her students to send in a piece.
“I heard about the awards from my art teacher, Kate McKensie, and knew I wanted to submit some of my writing,” sophomore Caroline Bailey said.
The regional awards were split into three ranks — Honorable Mention, Silver Key and Gold Key. The Gold Key winners went on to compete at the national level where Cardillo became the gold medalist in the Gedenk Award for Tolerance, Bailey won a silver medal in science fiction and fantasy and both junior Margaret Li and junior Ken Shin received silver medals in photography. In addition, junior Jackson Brook won two golds in the journalism category.
Paly students claimed three out of the 14 national medals in photography that went to California students — more than 20 percent.
Cardillo was one of six winners for the prestigious Gedenk Award, who each received $1,000.
“I was surprised to hear I had won but [I was] very honored,” Cardillo said. “A lot of amazing artwork has come out of these awards.”
According to Scholastic Art and Writing Award’s website, the Gedenk Award for Tolerance is aimed for young people to “Reflect upon the lessons learned from the Holocaust and other genocides, and attempt to raise awareness of the importance of increasing tolerance to safeguard a peaceful society.”
“When I learned about the Gedenk organization I came to strongly appreciate their goals and took my submission very seriously,” Cardillo said.
All four national medalists are invited to the ceremonies to acknowledge their impressive accomplishments.
“I’m starting to look forward to the ceremonies in New York City, which take place June 5-7,” Bailey said. “National Medalists accept their award in a ceremony at Carnegie Hall, attend college fairs, and go to a ‘Maker Prom.’”