Scholastic Awards

Danny Stock

Each year, students submit artwork and writing to Scholastic Writing and Art competitions with the dedicated support of their English and visual arts teachers. Submissions continued this year, even while students and teachers have been working virtually thanks to the commitment of the students and their dedicated teachers.

Update: An earlier edition inadvertently left off four of the writing award winners, Jamie Zimmermann ’23Rachel Schneider ’24, Nolawit Elias ’22, and Ava Blum ’23. The entries have been included below.

Writing Awards

Students received recognition for their writing at the end of January for 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The DC Writing Region of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards awarded 2021 DC Metro Scholastic Writing Awards to nine GDS students.

Avani Ahuja ’22 received two silver keys and two honorable mentions for three critical essays exploring 1) the intersectionality of an Indian American female identity in the historical context of suffrage and 2) bell hooks’s writings and 3) one essay on Yakov Yurovsky, a Russian Old Bolshevik and a Soviet Revolutionary.

Julien Berman ’22 received two gold keys and two honorable mentions for two short stories and two poems, including “Corona in Perspective.”

Leila Jackson ’22 received three silver keys for her poetry, including “crystal psyche,” the last stanza of which you can read at the end of this article.

Nicholas Penniman ’22 received a gold key and an honorable mention for his poems “December” and “Highway Blue” respectively, the latter of which is reminiscent of William Least Heat-Moon’s autobiographical travel book Blue Highways. Read the poem at the end of this article.

Jamie Zimmermann ’23 received a silver key for his poem, "The Tree that Stood Outside My Window." You can read a sample at the end of this article.

Nolawit Elias ’22 received an honorable mention for her critical essay "Declaration of Acceptance."

Rachel Schneider ’24 received an honorable mention for her short story "Sadie."

Ava Blum ’23 received a silver key for her Ekphrastic poem, "The Maiden in the Mountains." You can read a sample at the end of this article. 

Seventh grader Zoe received an honorable mention for her three-poem collection entitled “words.” We’ll leave you with a few lines from one of the poems. 

They tear us apart and pull us together
But with words we are free


Art Awards

Congratulations to the 15 High School students who won a combined 57 Scholastic Art Awards this year—ten gold keys, 18 silver keys, and 29 honorable mentions—for their drawing, painting, and photography. See the full list of winners below as well as samples from their pieces in the scrolling gallery below.

2021 Scholastic Art Award Winners:

Ava Blum ’23: 4 Honorable Mentions, 1 Silver Keys, 1 Gold Key - Drawing/Painting
Ally Brangham ’23: 1 Honorable Mention - Drawing/Painting
Zaira Chowdhury ’23: 1 Honorable Mention - Photography
Ella Gilespie ’21: 1 Gold Key - Photography
Adam Leff ’22: 1 Honorable Mention - Photography
Addie Lowenstein ’22: 1 Gold Key - Drawing/Painting
Nick Penniman ’22: 3 Honorable Mentions, 7 Silver Keys, 3 Gold Keys - Photography
Fiore Petricone ’21: 5 Honorable Mentions 1 Gold Key - Photography
Phoebe Pressler ’21: 1 Silver Key, 2 Honorable Mentions, 1 Gold Key - Drawing/Painting
Maya Ryu ’23: 1 Silver Key - Drawing/Painting
Ben Sager ’22: 2 Honorable Mentions, 1 Silver Key - Photography
Ryan Schnell ’21: 1 Honorable Mention - Drawing/Painting
Barbara Weaver ’23: 1 Gold Key, 3 Honorable Mentions, 3 Silver Keys - Drawing/Painting
Annabel Williams ’22: 2 Silver Keys, 3 Honorable Mentions - Drawing/Painting
Jordan Yates ’21: 3 Honorable Mentions, 1 Silver Key, 1 Gold Key - Photography


Selected poems mentioned above:

Last stanza of “crystal psyche” by Leila Jackson ’22 

it’s metaphorical it’s metaphorical
The fields are too wide,
the horses too wild
the monsters too red
the people too dead
and as her fingers fall
the house is too small

So I sit on the porch and drink chamomile tea
as the pearly evening bursts into flame
and as he hoists the moon upon his shoulders
the breeze brushes past my cheek,
phantom fingers placing rose petals
on my tongue
the sound never stops but still i weep
the ghosts, the strawberry seeds in my skin
don’t seem like a curse anymore.

"Highway Blue" by Nick Penniman ’22 

At dusk the highway turns to blue
And stillness rings like bells
And walking slow in crumbling shoes
He writes the lines he’ll tell

Behind him stretch the nothing miles
That streak across his eyes
Where something lives that strains his smile
And someday soon will die

It shakes across the empty plain
It hums among the stars 
It smells like sage and sun and rain
It’s close and clear and far 

It fills his heart then shoots it through
And carries all her faces
It keeps him walking highway blue
In search of open spaces

A sample of "The Tree that Stood Outside My Window" by Jamie Zimmermann ’23

How many memories
were preserved in those rings?
A language unintelligible to me.
I could only guess
what that peculiar prose read.
In my imagination,
the outer rings showed
my home being built
and my family
moving in,
placing ourselves
under the watchful eye
of the tree that stood outside my window.
Further into the core reside
reflections of bell-bottomed house parties,
antique automobiles,
and horse-drawn carriages.
Well before my time,
but not before the time
of the tree that stood outside my window.

A sample of "The Maiden in the Mountains" by Ava Blum ’23

...Her pale, 
snow white hands delicately close

the pages of her velvet journal 
and it is all gone. The 
world behind her: the mountains, the 
endless sky, forever preserved in a
transporting, intricately woven web of words.