And the 2018 NYC Scholastic Award Recipients are . . . .

New NYC Scholastic Awards Community,

Thank you for participating in the 2018 Scholastic Awards. This year, the NYC region received nearly 13,000 submissions from creative teens across the five boroughs.

Scores of jurors assembled at The New School to adjudicate submissions. Submissions are adjudicated blindly meaning that jurors do not see information such as a student’s name, gender, school, etc. Jurors evaluate submissions based on three sole criteria: originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision. We are deeply appreciative of the nearly 150 educators, editors, authors, etc. who carved out time from their busy schedules to participate as jurors. Please click HERE to view a complete list of the 2018 NYC Scholastic Awards Writing Jurors.

We asked some of the Writing Jurors questions about the type of submissions they encountered and critical feedback about the quality of the submissions.

While reviewing the submissions, what emergent themes did you observe?

  • Coming of age, family relationships, more on new, budding  relationships with peers and  family  than I  think we find with more  mature writers
  • There seems an increased interest in writing about equity and social justice issues that are currently in the news, a noticeable uptick
  • Country of origin, teen angst both real and imagined
  • Cultural heritage and accountability to ancestors
  • Sexual identity/discovery, divorce
  • For the middle school short stories, I (unfortunately?) was a bit struck at how many related to death, murder, abuse, broken families, betrayal, and persecution.
  • Identity politics, political writing, coming of age, stories of immigration and resettling. These are woke teens, and I was impressed by the risks they took in their work, and the clarity of ideas and opinions expressed
  • Intersectionality in race and ethnicity, the question of what it is to be American, fraught friendship, New York City as a muse

What advice would you give to students and their educators who are preparing to submit to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards? What can students do to make their work stand out in the judging process?

  • Try not write like any one you’ve read before. Experiment, play around with style.  This is time in your life to be adventurous.
  • Students must know that they are being judged on the three criteria that we judge on. They could do a self-assessment to see how they feel they have addressed them.
  • Always proofread! I was surprised at the number of typos I saw. Also, consult traditional schemes for genres, you don’t have to follow them slavishly, but it’s important in stories to be able to create a narrative arc and express change in characters (something I noticed missing in some of the entries).
  • Don’t feel pressured to use overly “impressive” vocabulary, and for poets, don’t be afraid to use rhyme either—it’s possible to still be innovative with it, without necessarily sounding childish or unsophisticated.
  • Write honestly, with as much specificity as possible.

Art submissions were adjudicated over a horribly frigid weekend by an impressive cadre of teaching artists, gallerists, curators, and the like. Thank you to our host, Parsons at Open Campus, the moderators who guided the adjudications process, and the jurors. The 2018 NYC Scholastic Awards Art Jurors are listed below in alphabetical order.

Nelli Agbulos, Eli D’Agostino, Samantha Alvarez, Corina Apostol, Ashley Bass, Terry Boddie, Courtney Buckland, Petros Chrisostomou, Jason Coatney, Lashun Costor, Vinod Dave, Francisco Donoso, Lola Flash, Ignacio Gonzalez-Lang, Jeremy Goodwin, Giannina Gutierrez, Jacob Hernandez, Christian Hooker, Judith Eloise Hooper, Stefano Imbert, Molaundo Jones, Juanita Lanzo, Yu Chun Ma, Yael Malka, Laura Mosquera, Hanna Negusie, Justin Nissley, Wilfredo Ortega, Sejin Park, Kenneth Parris III, Mitch Patrick, Scott Reeds, Corina Reynolds, Aya Rodriguez-Izumi, Analia Segal, Jed-Angelo Segovia, Bryant Small, Rica Takashima, Nat Ward, Zeehan Wazed, Benjamin Wright, Alan Yu, and Marian Christopher Zacharow

2018 NYC Scholastic Awards Art Jurors Vinod Dave, Hanna Negusie and Corina Apostol


2018 NYC Scholastic Awards Art Jurors Tom Motley, Rica Takashima and Yu Chun “Pony” Ma


We asked these jurors questions about the type of submissions they encountered and critical feedback about the quality of the submissions.

While reviewing the submissions, what emergent themes did you observe?

  • Women as muse, exploitation shooting in other countries, humor, tenderness, family, friends, architecture, community
  • Horses, landscapes, koi fish, portraits
  • Portraiture, some abstraction but mainly concerns with identity
  • There were many self-portraits, portraits of family members, and scenes from the city. Though these were all well done, it helped make the more social justice focused paintings stand out.
  • I noticed a lot of portraits were submitted. But there were also a lot of conceptual works that inspired me.
  • Lots of self-portraits, time lapse studies
  • The majority of the images submitted were portraits. Suggest students to explore other genres of images beside portraiture, and get inspired by what they feel most passionate about.
  • Flowers, dogs, moody self portraits
  • A lot of portrait, still life and landscape themes
  • A lot of self-identification themes
  • Images of girls looking out into horizons, particularly at sunset
  • Politics today, feminism, coming of age identities, LGBT rights
  • Teenage angst
  • A great deal of photographs that were mimicking popular practice in photography. The ones that made us stop and say, “Wow, that’s a new idea or new way to see the world,” were the ones that really stuck and did well.
  • You could tell when the work was the result of a class project.
  • Classroom assignments were evident as students responded to them. Multiple entries by the same student. Huge volume of digital media entries technically adept but lacking in originality or artistic vision compared to multimedia entries.
  • Narrative through the lens of NYC: subways, cities, streets, and crowds of people were present in the majority of the film pieces.
  • Amazing innovation at such young ages! Immense amounts of emotion as well. Thrilled art is still very much so alive and celebrated in schools as we all need these forms of expression now more than ever!

What advice would you give to students and their educators who are preparing to submit to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards? What can students do to make their work stand out in the judging process?

  • Educators should stop submitting assignment based work that has no originality to the art piece.
  • For class assignments, it’s pretty clear when we see several submissions by different students on the exact same subject matter and angle. It would be better for the educator to select one or two of the best from each assignment, to make the work more unique and higher quality, versus having multiple submissions of the same material where it’s too easy to compare quality. Also originality and creativity were important, if the students can take the skills learned in class and execute their work in a more sophisticated matter than literally just submitting a class assignment.
  • I suggest more personal work being submitted, rather than classwork. I say this because it can bring out their voice more. Sometimes stepping outside of the box doesn’t come easy for assigned artwork. Personal work definitely stands out.
  • Though technique is important, educators and students should also push for an overall concept behind their work.  For instance, what is an idea or issue that they’d like to challenge through their art?  What makes their work of art both relevant to the times and thought-provoking?
  • I would suggest clearer and cropped images.
  • Experiment, make “interesting” mistakes and/or learn from a mistake. Focus on a personal style/aesthetic, carefully look at what your peers are doing as well with their artworks.
  • It’s very important to have your work photographed in the best way possible and to ensure that they provide multiple shots from as many angles as possible.
  • Verify that their work abides by the rules of the competition and make sure you upload the correct version of your work.
  • Some of the entries were not properly prepared (upside-down, sideways, Instagram screenshots, etc.). Students need to understand the importance of submitting their best work in the most “professional” way possible.
  • Many really need to understand the importance of getting a good photograph of their work from all angles and for the photo to be more about the work itself than an attitude.
  • Clear photographs of the artwork by itself are best. If showing sculpture, select the most representative image as the first image to appear.
  • Document the work expertly, lighting and framing. Show multiple views if possible.
  • Use a minimum resolution (ex. 1500 pixel at the longest side, or 200 dpi) standard for the submissions. Screenshots and phone photos are not recommended. When submitting works, students should imagine that the images are going to be printed in a book and therefore quality control is a must.
  • Find your own voice, avoid visual and thematic clichés, and make a meaningful picture that is worth talking about.
  • Submit pieces that showcase your voice, tell a story, and go beyond cliché shots. Do something different and experiment with your photography—stray away from the norm. Create the photos you wish existed and don’t be afraid to play with different moods, set-ups, subjects, and/or backgrounds.
  • In film and animation, less is more. Students should use minimum of their footage for stronger expression.
  • For Film and Animation, I think students should make sure to submit curated previews of their work. There were a few interesting pieces that were passed over, because they were too short.
  • As far as photography goes, I’d encourage students to pay close attention to their edges and lighting. The edges of the frame and where the photo is cropped should be intentional. It shouldn’t look accidental. Don’t cut through subject matter, leave generous amounts of negative space around subjects, etc. As far as the lighting goes, be mindful of the light around you. After all, “photo” means “light.” If the light in the scene you’re photographing isn’t life-changing, bring in some lights or increase the contrast in post! When we’re judging, we’re looking at sometimes over 1000 images. The images that tend to stand out to us are those with a clear attention to details like edges and lighting.
  • Just to keep being themselves and being honest and open and not afraid to make mistakes. The work that was least interesting was that which we felt was copied from existing themes, but the works that were sincere and honest shone through and were a real pleasure to see.

The NYC Scholastic Awards thanks all jurors who provided insightful and valuable feedback. Students and educators will undoubtedly take these comments into consideration for the 2019 Scholastic Awards. In the meantime, the results of the 2018 NYC Scholastic Awards are in. Congratulations to all Award recipients! Gold Key works are automatically advanced to the national round of adjudications where they have the opportunity to be awarded a Silver or Gold Medal. The list of the 2018 National Silver and Gold Medalists will be published on the website on March 13, National Notification Day.

2018 NYC Scholastic Art Awards Honorable Mention, Silver Key and Gold Key List

2018 NYC Scholastic Writing Awards Honorable Mention, Silver Key and Gold Key List

Student and educator names appear exactly as they were entered into ORS. Scholastic Awards staff will NOT accommodate requests to edit spelling, capitalization, etc. To make edits, students and educators must log into the Online Registration System (ORS) and update their profile. The deadline to update profiles is Monday, February 6. Certificates of achievement will bear students’ names exactly as they are listed in ORS. Scholastic Awards staff will NOT accommodate requests to reprint certificates.

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