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April 15, 2024

Artists, Writers Earn Top Awards

Budding writers and artists from the Academy of the Holy Angels emerged from the 2024 regional Scholastic Art & Writing Competition with 16 Gold Keys, 12 Silver Keys, and 29 Honorable Mentions. Ten Angels who earned one or more Gold Keys will now compete against peers from across the country for the opportunity to win national gold, silver, or bronze medals.

Gold Key winners include (far left top-bottom) Haruka Fujihara, Lizbeth George, Elise Tao. Standing (L-R): Emma Spadora, Anissa Lena, Sarah Cho, Esther Kim, Taylor Daves, Hailey Kim, and Julianna Dail.

Multi-key winner Elise Tao of Upper Saddle River received five Gold Keys, six Silver Keys, and 10 Honorable Mentions. Her Gold Key entries include two poems, including “Ropeburn”; a critical essay, “Black Women: The Unsung Heroines of Contemporary American Politics”; and two journalistic pieces, including “Terry Hu’s Moment: Defying Expectation in Hollywood and Promoting Queer and Asian-American Representation.” Tao received another six Silver Keys for her poetry. Her Honorable Mentions span the art and writing categories, and include six for poetry, two for digital art, and two for her writing portfolios.


Portfolio is considered the most competitive category, since the panel adjudicates each writer or artist based on an entire collection of work.


AHA’s Gold Key-winning writers also include writer Lizbeth George. This AHA Middle School eighth grader was honored for “Uncovering the Illusion of Clean Beauty,” a critical essay.


Several AHA poets earned Silver Keys, including Kate Langan of Haworth, Sophia Karamanoukian of Englewood Cliffs, and Caroline Ko of Hoboken. Gigi Ochs of Fair Lawn received an Honorable Mention for her entry in the poetry category.

Artist Esther Kim of Cresskill earned three Gold Keys, including two for her paintings, “Democratic Utopia” and “Remaining Beauty.” Her third Gold Key entry, a mixed media work, is entitled “Interstellar Space Travel.”


Sarah Cho of Palisades Park brought home three awards in digital art, including a Gold Key for “Are We Safe?” and Honorable Mentions for “The Roles Reversed” and “Actions Have Consequences.”


The Academy’s Gold Key-winning artists also include photographer Anissa Lena of Moonachie, who won for her entry, “The Indomitable Human Spirit.” Painter Hailey Kim of Fort Lee brought home her Gold Key for “Piece of Peace.”


Julianna Dail of Saddle River earned a Gold Key for her photo, “Blue Suede Shoes,” an image of a blue-footed booby she took while visiting the Galapagos Islands. Dail also received an Honorable Mention for her photo entitled “Gentle Strength.”

Emma Spadora’s photographs, “Silhouette,” “Gallery,” and “Solitude,” netted a Gold Key and two Honorable Mentions, respectively. Spadora is a resident of Ridgewood.


Taylor Daves received a Gold Key in the drawing/illustration category for her work, “First Impressions.” This Ramsey resident also earned two Honorable Mentions for her paintings.


Haruka Fujihara of Fort Lee won her Gold Key for her painting, “Selfie with Friends.” Fujihara’s jewelry submission, “Pure White,” received an Honorable Mention.


Silver Key winners in the art category include Roumei Li of Tenafly, drawing/illustration; Rachelle Wu of Harrington Park, drawing/illustration; and Isabella Wisniewski of Paramus, photography.


In addition to those previously named, Honorable Mentions went to Wisniewski, photography; Katelyn Freeburn of Mahwah and Gabriella Ragucci of Harrington Park, printmaking; Joung Youn “Amy” Kim of Cresskill, painting and drawing/illustration; and Ava Sung of Cresskill, digital art.


Lauren Gumban of Lodi and Sophia Chounoune of Englewood both earned Honorable Mentions in the portfolio category. Gumban’s collection, “Immersion,” features her digital photography. Chounoune’s portfolio is entitled “Black Portraiture.” Chounoune also earned an Honorable Mention for her photograph, “Friend on the 2 train.”


The Scholastic Art & Writing Competition was established in 1923 by publisher Maurice R. Robinson. This event has become the country’s oldest and most prestigious competition for teens. Notable honorees from prior years include Amanda Gorman, Joyce Carol Oates, Andy Warhol, Kay WalkingStick, Zac Posen, Tschabalala Self, and Stephen King.