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Topeka teenagers make a clean sweep at the Eastern Kansas Scholastic Art Awards

Some of the best artistic talent in the state is hiding in the Topeka area classrooms, but now all of eastern Kansas will know.

Several Topeka-area high school students took home many, many awards this semester through the East Kansas Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, winning nearly 100 of the organization’s 428 honors.

Founded in 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards recognize and honor some of the best teenage artistic talent in the country. The competition is divided into regions, from which golden key recipients can progress to the national competition. Topeka area students compete in the East Kansas region.

The competition rewards students for work that demonstrates originality, technical ability, and the emergence of personal voice or vision, and it’s a great honor for students to receive an honorable mention as well, said Brad LeDuc, instructor at art at Washburn Rural High School.

“Receiving an award at our regional show is the equivalent of a high school athlete placing state at a single event in terms of achievements and level of difficulty,” LeDuc said. “Art students in the region invest countless hours to master their craft and develop their voice as artists. We are delighted when they are recognized for their efforts at Scholastic, a highlight for our students.”

The Topeka community has had strong support for students’ artistic development

The nearly 100 awards received by Topeka area high school students include 26 Gold Keys, 29 Silver Keys, and 39 Honorable Mentions.

Additionally, Jefferson West High School sophomore Misha Coleman was selected as an American Visions nominee for his “Gaze” print. The nomination, awarded to just five students in the regional competition, recognizes work with an original and authentic vision, considering factors such as talent, use of medium, point of view and background.

“Topeka art students have consistently had a strong presence at Scholastic, and I believe this is due to three key factors in our community,” said Avery Ayers-Berry, a veteran art teacher at Shawnee Heights High School. “The first is community support in promoting young artists, including but not limited to, Youth Art Month, Kansas as Talented as You Think, The Topeka Art Guild, and The Topeka Performing Arts Young Artists Awards.”

Topeka’s teaching force has also played an important role in fostering and developing the artistic talent of adolescents, with award-winning educators such as LeDuc, National Milken Educator Award winner, and Ayers-Berry, Kansas Teacher of the Year 2023 nominee.

The students’ Gold and Silver Key pieces are on view through March 25 at the Mark Arts Gallery in Wichita. Admission is free, with awards on March 25th.

See the complete list of Topeka area awardees and samples of student work online at cjonline.com.

Rafael Garcia is an educational reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 785-289-5325. Follow him on Twitter at @byRafaelGarcia.

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