February 01, 2023

AHA Students Flourish in Scholastic Art & Writing Competition

Expressive artists and creative wordsmiths from the Academy of the Holy Angels, including one middle school student, fared exceptionally well in the regional leg of the 2023 Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. In total, Angels’ accolades include a nomination for an American Voices Award, 11 Gold Keys (9 in art, 2 in writing), 18 Silver Keys (12 in art, 6 in writing), and 27 Honorable Mentions (20 in art, 7 in writing).

AHA’s American Voices Award nominee and Gold Key winners will continue on to the national competition, where their work will be matched against other elite teen honorees.


“We All Deserve a Home”


Artist Jiayi “Stella” Ouyang, who won a 2021 National Gold Medal for her exceptional work in film and animation, is one of just five teens in the region to be nominated for an American Visions Award. Ouyang was recognized for “We All Deserve a Home,” the drawing/illustration for which she earned one of four Gold Keys. American Visions Award nominees must have a Gold Key-winning work that expresses an original voice or vision. Ouyang’s evocative drawing features a large hand gently cradling a small home with a blue roof and yellow sides above a crumbling city.


“I created ‘We All Deserve a Home’ in 2022 when the Russian Ukraine War first started,” Ouyang said. “The piece is inspired by my hope for world peace, but especially for the Ukrainians. The chaos in the background of the piece is the current situation in Ukraine. The hand shows the protection, and the house colored in blue and yellow represents Ukraine. The hand that is holding up the little house conveys my message that we all deserve a home.”


This work will be adjudicated by a panel that will select one award winner from each region.


Ouyang’s Gold Key-winning works also include “Art Studio,” an architecture/industrial design project; “Take a Seat,” a painting; and “The Space Between,” an art portfolio. She earned Silver Keys for “Door B” and “Duality,” both of which are mixed media projects; and “Lamp Study,” a drawing/illustration. Her drawing “Skull Replica Study” received an Honorable Mention.

“Black and White”



Yeon “Elizabeth” Choe received a Gold Key for her drawing/illustration, “biological network.”

Sungmin Park was honored for two paintings. She received a Gold Key for “Offensive Beauty,” and a Silver Key for “Defiance.”

“Hide and Seek”


Rachelle Wu received two Gold Keys, two Silver Keys, and one Honorable Mention. Her Gold Key works include a drawing entitled “Black and White” and painting entitled “Hide and Seek.” Wu received her Silver Key for her drawing “Kimchi Fridge” and the Honorable Mention for her painting “All Eyes on Me.”


Faith Youn won a Gold Key for her mixed media work, “Dreamin’,” and Silver Keys for her sculpture, “Pressure Caves,” and her painting, “Drizzle.” Youn also garnered three Honorable Mentions, including two for drawing/illustration and one for her architecture and industrial design work.


Youn enjoys expressing her emotions, sparking curiosity, and presenting different ideas through her art and music. Her sculpture, “Pressure Caves” is a visual representation of how she feels when she performs the Bach Sonata, “Presto,” on her violin.



“Often when playing a piece like “Presto,” my hand cramps up because of its tempo and demanding composition of notes, yet when listening to it, the melody flows smoothly like a singular line,” Youn shared. “Through my piece, I hoped to replicate this feeling of tightness and fluidity. Starting off at a singular starting square, the energy takes off, bouncing across my hands until it reaches the triangular end point. I use visual ‘vibrations’ and fragmented perspectives to provide a sense of movement to my still hand. With wood rods, I abstractly cut up the view of the hand and painted various red streaks, replicating the flow of energy I feel in my hand. Through my work, I hope to provide a perspective to the viewer of this feeling of tightness and fluidity that typically the performer only feels.”

“Pink Lemonade”

Silver Key winning artists also include: Sophia Chounoune, “Pink Lemonade,” digital art; Julianna Dail, “Infinity,” photography; Ava Goyal, “Chains,” drawing/illustration; Lauren Gumban, “The Tale of Hades and Persephone,” digital art; and Eva Santelli, “Chasing Chords,” drawing/illustration.

Honorable Mentions went to artists Julianna Dail, two for photography; Haruka Fujihara, drawing/illustration; Natalia Gonzalez, one for drawing/illustration and one for painting; Ava Goyal, mixed media; eighth grade student Evangeline Koo, drawing/illustration; Isabella Lara, two for digital art; Gabriella Ragucci, drawing/illustration; Eva Santelli, painting; and Emma Spadora, three for photography.


Writer Elise Tao of Upper Saddle River brought home a Gold Key for her poem, “Broken Records in the 2010s/2020s.” Her six Silver Keys include accolades for four poems, a journalistic piece, and a critical essay.



Annika Watson received a Gold Key for her flash fiction submission, “Dandelions in the Spring.”


Writers who earned Honorable Mentions include Reilly Guy, “Soccer Moms,” humor; Sophia Karamanoukian “No Love,” poetry; Claire Lee, “Social Media’s Eternal Damage on Teens v. It’s Temporary Benefits,” a critical essay; and Sophia Lee’s poem “Clockwork” and personal essay/memoir “What Fencing Taught Me.”


The Scholastic Art & Writing Competition was established in 1923 by publisher Maurice R. Robinson. This event is the country’s oldest and most prestigious competition for teens. Notable honorees from prior years include Andy Warhol, Kay WalkingStick, Zac Posen, and Ezra Jack Keats.