Scholastic judging highlights writers, artists


With more than 4,000 entries, 1,000 winners and recognition for all young artists, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art Scholastic Art and Writing Competition returns to highlight the talent of local middle and high schoolers.

The program was started in 1923 by the Scholastic Book Company as a way to “recognize and honor creativity and to give creative students and their teachers the same kinds of opportunities for scholarships that athletic students get for sports,” said Alyssa Dumire, director of Children’s Education at FWMoA. “The idea is just recognizing that these creative students have a voice.”

Today the competition offers recognition in 29 categories including architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, poetry, dramatic script, fashion, animation and video games. The criteria for judging includes technical skill, originality and personal voice or vision.

“So two-thirds of what the judges are looking for is totally unique to the artist or writer,” Dumire wrote in an e-mail. “It’s more about style and authenticity than it is access to high-quality art materials or finely honed skills. We’re most interested in whatever the work is trying to say and its ability to do so, because the ability to communicate and express your own ideas is so important.”

The awards are open to all students from public, private and home schools throughout the U.S. and its territories, encompassing 130 regions nationwide.

The award levels at the regional level include Honorable Mention, Silver Key and Gold Key. A student whose work is awarded a Gold Key at the regional level goes on to compete for national awards, and each year, dozens of students gain national recognition. These national award-winning students join the ranks of celebrated American artists and writers, having their art displayed at an exhibition in New York City and their work published for all to see. A Best Teen Writing book is published every year with the work of all the national writing winners. The book can be purchased on Amazon.

Though the Fort Wayne Museum of Art became a part of the competition just 15 years ago, and has consistently ranked in the top 10 for national awards given to its regional Scholastic participants. In 2013, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art was awarded the Gold Key for Excellence in the Field by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. This annual award is given to only one organization that demonstrates extraordinary dedication to providing opportunities to creative young people, perseveres through challenges over time and expands the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program to reach more participants, among other program attributes, the organization said in a statement.

The 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Exhibition will take place Feb. 10-April 8 and will feature winning art and writing by students in 7th-12th grades from northern Indiana and northwest Ohio.

The exhibition features hundreds of types of art and all genre of written pieces, each expressing topics that inspire creative teens today.

The entry deadline was Jan. 9.

The FWMoA program is just one of 26 Scholastic programs in the country to offer the full art and writing program and has grown over the years to include 52 counties in Indiana and Ohio, according to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art website.

“It’s a program for the kids,” Emily Powers, a senior at East Allen University, said. This is Powers’ third year participating in the competition and she’ll be submitting a portfolio, which only graduating seniors can do.

She said the competition is important because it gets student work into the public eye and gives those students the chance to be awarded for it.

For her personally, Powers said the program has boosted her confidence in her writing and also inspired her to attend summer writing classes and write more in her free time.

Powers encourages all students to enter the competition. While she herself has struggled with the question of “what if no one likes it?” with her work, she overcame those doubts and entered anyway — and now has four Silver Keys and one Gold Key to show for it.

“It’s just worth a shot to do it,” she said. “[Just] take your time but also don’t overthink it.”

To learn more about how students can submit their creative work to this competition, visit // or contact Dumire at