The Time is Now: Juror Feedback

The time to enter your original work to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is NOW!

The New York City region’s deadline is Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at 11:59 PM ET. Use the upcoming event and juror feedback to support you through the entry process. Do you have questions about your entry? Email

Upcoming Event

Live Q&A with Scholastic Awards Staff

Thursday, December 1, 2022 | 7:00–8:30 pm ET
Register now!

As we get closer to regional deadlines, questions about your entry to the Scholastic Awards can start piling up. Don’t stress! We’re here to help.

Teens, educators, parents, and guardians are invited to speak with Scholastic Awards staff members one-on-one to get their questions answered in these free virtual events. During the Q&A, Scholastic Awards staff will answer frequently asked questions for all attendees and meet with as many people as possible to address specific questions one-on-one.

Xiaoyu Wang, Bound, Sculpture. Grade 12, Frank Sinatra High School of the Arts, Astoria, NY. Kijong Do, Educator. Gold Key, Gold Medal, 2022.

2022 Scholastic Awards Emergent Themes

This past year more than 150 regional jurors gathered virtually to select the regional Honorable Mention, Silver Key, and Gold Key winners. Here are a couple of standout themes from the 2022 Scholastic Awards. Use these themes to push your work further this year.


The pandemic’s isolation was a major theme. It was interesting to see the hardships and grief of Covid-19 emerge in many of the works and how younger people are dealing with this ongoing situation.


Many students were engaging with family history, race, culture, identity, sexuality, the body, and current events. Themes of introspection, world-building, school violence, loneliness, isolation, and fear of death were also prevalent. Challenging societal norms, queerness, rebellion, teenage angst, navigating the world as a young person, and critical opinions. Coming of age, intersectional culture and social community development, aspirations, family dynamics, and trauma.


Love emerged as a major theme.  A lot of poems about love and crushes, and a lot of personal essays that seemed more argumentative. Generalized anxiety, family (pros & cons), heartache, renewal.

Growth & Change

Dissonance with previous generations. Resignation, replaced anger or despondency. This was especially prevalent in fiction and poetry submissions. I observed a profound awareness and urgency over issues of social justice and current events affecting the day-to-day lives of students. Experiences of racial and political tensions, a variety of mental health struggles, family, coming of age, loss, and resiliency. Mental health, transition, grief, and hope.


Photographing through glass or multiple layers of glass (through a window, looking at bottles in front of neon tubes), portraiture in black and white. On the downside, there was a lot of anime that was poorly done. I saw some of the artists use a theme within their body of work. Some themes I saw were landscapes, depth of field, portraits, and some surrealist work.

Tullia Santo, Little House on the Seaside, Ceramics & Glass. Grade 12, St. Francis Preparatory School, Fresh Meadows, NY. Jeanne Buccino, Educator. Gold Key, 2022.

Juror Feedback

From Art Jurors


Your submission should tell a story. Focus on details that make your entry unique.

Follow your heart when it comes to your art. Tell the stories that are unique to you, and share the messages that only you can share. Trust and love the process. Write! Journal! Meditate! And be gentle with yourself.

If you enjoy and love the act of making art, then keep making your art whether you are awarded or not. There is so much time and space to grow and develop your craft. Experiment and explore and trust yourself.

Think about whether or not your image tells a story. The still image should retain the power to move the viewer (to paraphrase a Life Magazine quote). If this photograph were a film still, what would the movie it was taken from be about? Is there personality or character in the image? 


Please be sure to photograph the entries very well, and have a script available so that the comic text is legible.

Pay attention to the requirements of your category!! 

Don’t just point and shoot. Think about cropping and the place of your subjects within the image.


Be yourself. Think outside of the box. Don’t worry about what will appeal to the masses; think about what appeals to you.

I understand that many of the works submitted were school assignments and projects, but encouraging students and educators to have some degree of interdisciplinary creativity in going beyond minimum requirements would really help works stand out individually.

Don’t just submit a calendar image (i.e., pretty but unremarkable, not likely to be remembered). Submit a photograph that speaks to an emotional place within you, the photographer. Then think about how likely the image would speak to a stranger.

If you believe in it, submit it. Images (videos) that go beyond process to concepts and themes stand out.

Valerie Macias Hernandez, What I See, Drawing & Illustration. Grade 11, Millennium Art Academy, Bronx, NY. Laura Blau, Educator. Gold Key, 2022.

From Writing Jurors

Emergence of Voice

Make sure your pieces stand out immediately!!! And make sure your ending is unforgettable. Please review and re-read your work over and over again to avoid simple mistakes. Have someone else and/or multiple people look it over to ensure you don’t lose points on minor things.

Be authentic and write what you’re passionate about. Voice shines through when you’re passionate.

I think writing from the heart and being as open and honest with your writing are key. I read many pieces this year that were raw and vulnerable, which make them relatable and very strong.

I would suggest bringing all of you to the piece. Write or prepare the piece so that your voice comes through.


Learn the mechanics of English and writing (even if you use colloquialisms and dialect in the writing). Be cognizant of structure, organization, writer’s voice, and narrative flow.

Proofread 3+ times. Read everything. Edit every piece of writing until it bleeds. Put it away completely for 24–48 hours and read it again.

Double-check the definition of the categories you are submitting to, and compare that with a careful consideration of which category your piece would fit best in. Is your prose poem really more of a memoir?, etc.

Keep the language appropriate to the category. Memoir/personal narrative should not use the formal vocabulary of an English paper, and an English paper shouldn’t sound like we’re having a quick conversation on the bus.

Structure, take the time to edit. I saw a lot of poems that didn’t understand why they were using the line breaks they were using. Line breaks are so important!


Be yourself. Speak from a place that is authentic. Write about something that means something to you.

Don’t try too hard to show off all of your literary skills in your piece; just choose your topic, and let the words flow from there. It will come naturally.

It’s good (and very brave) to experiment, take chances and see what it’s like putting your work out there. Doing such a ‘contest’ and/or the writing itself should also be something you’re really interested in. Would definitely encourage finding more ways to make the subject matter come alive/relate to students’ living experiences and curiosities, as well as to make more time to organize, proofread, and draft entries. When it’s true to your unique thinking and observations, it stands out.

Specificity always stands out the most to me. I love when the writer either dives deep into the subject or if they choose something they are passionate about and are able to translate it into something I care about, too.

Angel Lien, Tag, You’re It!, Grade 10, Frank Sinatra High School of the Arts, Astoria, NY. Stone Hsieh, Educator. Gold Key, 2022.

Community highlights

Register for the Upcoming Pratt OST art and design classes

Registration period: Spring registration is open now
Schedule: Wednesdays, 4:30–6:30 pm. 20-week program, September–May
Location: Pratt’s Brooklyn Campus
Tuition/Financial Aid: 100% scholarship program, restricted to youth who meet the income eligibility guidelines. 100% free. All art supplies and materials are provided. No tuition costs.

Registration period: Spring registration opens November 29
Schedule: Saturdays, 10:00 am–12:00 pm. One 10-week fall semester, one 10-week spring semester.
Location: Pratt’s Brooklyn Campus
Tuition/Financial Aid: Full Tuition: $320 (includes all required materials and supplies). Financial Aid Tuition: $50 (Financial aid is available for students whose households meet income eligibility guidelines)

Pratt Young Scholars
Registration period: Application due March 1 for current 9th-grade students
Schedule: 3-year-long scholarship program
Tuition/Financial Aid: 100% scholarship program, restricted to youth who meet the income eligibility guidelines. 100% free. All art supplies and materials are provided. No tuition costs.

Featured Image: Heidi Li, The Last Fish, Drawing & Illustration. Grade 10, Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY. Kim Do, Educator. Gold Key, 2022.

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