SJA News


Students Win National Medals in Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Junior Anzhelika Nastashchuk won a National Silver Medal in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her photograph "The Culture".


St. Johnsbury Academy junior Olivia Robinson's short story "Silence" won a Gold Medal in the national Scholastic Art and Writing awards. As a Gold Medal winner, Olivia has been invited the 2019 National Ceremony which takes place at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Thursday, June 6, 2019. Additionally, junior Anzhelika Nastashchuk won a National Silver Medal for her photograph "The Culture". The Academy was the only school in Vermont from which two students won national medals.

Olivia's award-winning story is set in Taiwan and was inspired by an interview she conducted with a Taiwanese student at the Academy. Part of it reads, "No one ever told you that when someone else is deaf, the silence will get to you, too. I have to write almost everything I say until he learns to read lips or until I learn sign language. He also gets sad. His grades have dropped, and he has lost a lot of friends who don't learn how to communicate with him. I promised I would stay with him, though. We are best friends, even if nothing is the same. We tried going to the movies last week but Guānlín couldn't understand it. He can't understand a lot of things now. In that way, it's understandable why his parents decided to keep him here. But the logic does not make me less resentful."

Jennifer Mackenzie, Olivia's creative writing teacher, said, "Olivia is a talented writer who has been well recognized at SJA since her freshman year. She has pushed herself to become a better writer since then through a summer internship with the New York Times. She deserves this national recognition! Her story, written in Creative Writing class last year, beautifully combines suspense with aptly chosen cultural details to create a unique story set in Taiwan."

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards website states, "Since 1923, the Awards have recognized teenagers from across the country. By receiving a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Medal, your student joins a legacy of celebrated authors and artists including Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein, Cy Twombly, Robert Indiana, Kay WalkingStick, Mozelle Thompson, Hughie Lee-Smith, and John Baldessari; writers Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Bernard Malamud, Marc Brown, Myla Goldberg, and Joyce Carol Oates; photographer Richard Avedon; actors Frances Farmer, Robert Redford, Alan Arkin, Lena Dunham, and John Lithgow; fashion designer Zac Posen; and filmmakers Stan Brakhage, Ken Burns, and Richard Linklater." This year, nearly 340,000 works of art and writing were submitted by students in grades 7–12; fewer than 2,700 national medals were awarded.

Headmaster Tom Lovett said, "Unlike our performing artists or athletes, our writers and visual artists work in relative obscurity and produce beautiful works that only a few of us occasionally see. I am so pleased that Olivia and Anzhelika not only got to share their work with a national audience, but also got recognized for the excellence of that work. They—along with their teachers and families—should be very proud."

Last month, 24 SJA students won a total of 59 regional art and writing awards for their work in Digital Art, Painting, Photography, Film and Animation, Comic Art, Drawing and Illustration, Design, Printmaking, Ceramics and Glass, Editorial Cartoon, Poetry, Short Story, or for their Art Portfolio. They received 16 Gold Medals, 21 Silver Medals, and 22 Honorable Mentions.