WBHS/BCAT students win National Scholastic Art awards

By Debbie Adams

Urunna Anyanwu and Andrea Gonzalez, both seniors at William Byrd High School and the Center for Visual Arts (CVA) at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT), have won Silver Medals in the 98th annual 2021 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program. The winners were announced on March 17.

Urunna Anyanwu (photo courtesy of Lifetouch)


Andrea Gonzalez (Lifetouch)

“More than 230,000 works of art and writing were submitted for the 2021 Scholastic Awards,” said their BCAT art instructor, Natalie Strum. “Our two students from Burton were selected by some of the foremost leaders in the visual arts for excellence. Only 2,000 works received a National Medal, which places our students in the 1 percent of all submissions.

“Since 1923, the awards have celebrated artists and writers,” Strum said. “Our amazing students are now part of the legacy, joining the ranks of notable alumni, including Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Kay WalkingStick, and Andy Warhol–all of whom won Scholastic Awards when they were teens.”

Students’ entries are blindly adjudicated by some of the foremost leaders in the visual and literary arts. Luminaries who have served as judges include Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Judy Blume, Paul Giamatti, Lesley Stahl, and Nikki Giovanni.

Jurors look for works that exemplify the awards’ core values: originality, technical skill, and the emergence of personal voice or vision.

Anyanwu and Gonzalez won numerous awards in February at the regional Scholastic Art Awards hosted by the Fine Arts Center of the New River Valley. Gold Key winners advanced to the national level in March.

The Scholastic Awards program, sponsored by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, is the nation’s longest running and most prestigious recognition program for young adults in the arts in grades 7-12.

Anyanwu won three Gold Keys, one Silver Key, and three Honorable Mentions in the regional competition. Her Gold Key works included “Hair Woes,” “Pieces of Me,” and “Cornucopia.” Anyanwu’s Silver Key piece was entitled, “Severed Sisters.” Her Honorable Mentions were for “My Nigeria is Dying,” “Hide Behind Flopsy,” and “Seriously.”

Her National Silver Medal was for “Pieces of Me.”

Her “Piece of Me” won Urunna Anyanwu the National Scholastic Art Silver Medal.

Gonzalez won one Gold Key, two Silver Keys, and three Honorable Mentions in the regional showcase. Her Gold Key piece was named “Queen Elizardbeth.” The Silver Key awards were for “Color and Texture” and “Home Inside a Home Inside a Pandemic.” Her Honorable Mentions were for “Ego Timorem Sum,” “Knit Knit Purl,” and “Titipupu Cantando.”

Her National Silver Medal was for “Queen Elizardbeth.”

In presenting the awards for the Southwest Virginia Region, the

Andrea Gonzalez won the National Scholastic Art Award Silver Medal for “Queen Elizardbeth.”

Fine Arts Center emphasized they were proud once again to be the official affiliate for the Scholastic Art Awards in the region.

“We are all aware of the challenges educators, students and their families have faced this past year just trying to continue some semblance of schooling. Despite these difficulties, students across the region overcame these challenges and again submitted a tremendous body of work across a variety of media. This is a testament to those students, their teachers, and their families who, despite adversity, continued to create and explore their talents. Every child who continues to make art, and every teacher who guides them, and every family member who nurtures young artists, whether that art is shared with us or not, is a winner. Keep making art.”


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