By Katie Blenko
Fifty BB&N students garnered a total of 79 awards this January in the 2013 Scholastic Art & Writing Competition—36 more awards then the next Massachusetts school. 32 students received Honorable Mentions for their work, 22 students received Silver Keys, and 25 received Gold Keys, an honor that qualifies their work for national adjudication and the chance for further recognition to be announced this spring.
Since the founding of the Awards in 1923, over 13 million students have submitted artwork and writing annually.
According to the competition’s website, approximately 15-20% of students statewide win Honorable Mentions, 10-15% garner Silver Keys, and only 7-10% are bestowed Gold Keys. All Silver and Gold Key-winners are invited to a March 3 award ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments.
According to English Teacher Rob Leith, several of whose students received awards, BB&N has performed especially well in the competition in the past few years. He attributed this trend to particularly encouraging art and English teachers.
“I always urge my ninth graders to submit,” he said, adding that BB&N students have submitted work to the competition for the past three decades.
One of Mr. Leith’s students, Isabel Ruehl ’16, won a prestigious American Voices nomination for her Gold Key essay, The Red Light, submitted in the Flash Fiction category. This award is presented to only five works of writing in Massachusetts and represents a “best-in-show” designation that qualifies nominees for an additional national award.
“My piece began as a description about a public place,” Isabel said. “The assignment was to go to this place, observe it, then describe it. I chose an intersection and ended up writing about it from the point of view of three people: a journalist, a bank robber, and a mother. I tried to draw myself and the reader into the mind of each character as much as possible.”
Isabel credited Mr. Leith, whose freshman English classes write a number of short stories and personal essays throughout the year, for much of her achievement. She added that beyond her award, she appreciated the opportunity to craft such a story, especially in a class setting.
“I think this was probably the most fun paper assigned to the class so far,” she said.
For many winners, the recognition fellow classmates, writers, and artists proved the greatest pleasure.
“I feel proud of my accomplishment,” said Andrew Shifren ’13, a Silver Key-winner in the Personal Essay category, “[but] it was great to see so many BB&N students win awards.”