Eleven Groton School students have won regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, including eight gold keys, the highest honor. Six gold keys were in the visual arts and two in writing.
Yuen Ning Chang '21 brought in five awards herself, including three gold keys—two for photography and one for drawing/illustration—and two honorable mentions, in photography. Joshua Guo '20 earned four awards, straddling the arts and writing categories: in visual arts, he earned a gold key for film/animation, and in the writing category, he earned a silver for memoir as well as honorable mentions in memoir and short story.
Other gold keys in the visual arts went to John Donovan '20 and Isabel Cai '21 for painting; Isabel also earned an honorable mention in the mixed-media category. In writing, Mikayla Murrin '21 and Yumin Shivdasani '20 earned gold keys for flash fiction and poetry, respectively. Mikayla also won a silver key in science fiction and an honorable mention in short story, while Yumin brought in two silver keys for her poetry.
Gold keys go to “the very best works submitted to local programs,” according to the Scholastic organization, and are automatically entered in the national competition. National winners will be announced in mid-March.
Other students earning multiple awards were Angela Wei '21, who earned two honorable mentions in painting, and Rajit Khanna '19, who earned a silver key and an honorable mention for poetry. Eliza Powers '20 won a silver key in humor, Wren Fortunoff '22 won silver in painting, and Elbereth Chen '21 won an honorable mention in short story.
Many of these works are beautifully conceived and executed, but also share or trigger intense emotion. “The writing is less about the plot and characters and more about the emotions and ideas behind it,” explained Mikayla.
Writing for the humor competition was entirely different; in Eliza's case, the intent was to make a point through a satirical job rejection letter. “I wrote this to satirize the job and resumé process," she said, "and to use exaggerated stereotypes to explore the tension between baby boomers and millennials.”
Yuen Ning’s gold key–winning photographs captured the free spirits and joy of children in the Tibetan highlands, where Yuen Ning spends her summers. “The tranquility of the children there isn’t something I see every day,” she said. “People are constantly changing, and I thought it would be meaningful to keep a record of the children’s growth as I continue traveling to the Tibetan highlands each year.”
All in all, Groton’s student painters, filmmakers, illustrators, photographers, writers, and poets won twenty-five Scholastic awards—eight gold keys, seven silver keys, and ten honorable mentions.
Below is one example of a gold key winner: "Solstice in Vienna" by Yumin Shivdasani. She said it was inspired by "a winter walk through the woods, during which I saw a tree frozen in a curve that reminded me of a ball gown’s hem. From there, I had the foundation and title of my poem, and tried to write the rest intuitively rather than systematically." Yumin added, "I think poetry is one of those things that often steps beyond the bounds of reason."
Solstice in Vienna
When the lemon rind curls behind the sky,
I know I can think of you, lion
and your violin,
prowling slow and watchful
then sharp –
(throngs of ballroom heels pounce under hems
I imagine I will meet you under the ivory viol
quivering on high notes steeped in ice –
I imagine it would be pleasant.
I think if we sunk our hands into the earth
and strained its gnarled bones apart,
we might have a lamplit alcove home enough
for the both of us.
I imagine, in that most secret briar of the city,
you sprawled over me,
clutching my words like Prometheus’s fire itself,
and I your mane,
glistening with silt.
Images in the above photo gallery: The award winners (not pictured, Angela Wei), a gold key–winning photograph by Yuen Ning Chang '21, a gold key–winning painting by John Donovan '20, and a silver key–winning painting by Wren Fortunoff.