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The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.
meryl streep and art and writing award winners Actor Meryl Streep (center) with the 15 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Portfolio winners backstage at Carnegie Hall in New York. (Photo: Stuart Ramson for Scholastic Inc.)

A Celebration of the Arts

Young artists and writers honored at Carnegie Hall

By Grace McManus | June 4 , 2012
Kid Reporter Grace McManus interviews 2012 Gold Portfolio winners Diane Ward (top) and Bartek Yassa backstage at Carnegie Hall. (Photos: Stuart Ramson for Scholastic Inc.)
Kid Reporter Grace McManus interviews 2012 Gold Portfolio winners Diane Ward (top) and Bartek Yassa backstage at Carnegie Hall. (Photos: Stuart Ramson for Scholastic Inc.)

Most evenings at New York's Carnegie Hall are filled with the sound of wondrous music. But on Friday, the famed New York concert hall was filled with the beautiful cheers, laughter, and applause of the 800 talented teens winners of the 89th Annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and their proud parents and teachers.

The annual event, presented by the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, is America's longest-running, most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative teens. Categories include dramatic script, journalism, humor, novel writing, science fiction, painting, sculpture, photography, fashion design, video game design, and film and animation.

Fifteen high school seniors received the highest award: the Portfolio Gold Medal and a $10,000 college scholarship.

"It's just an incredible experience. There really aren't words to describe it," double-gold winner Diane Ward excitedly told me.

A graduating senior from Mississippi, Diane won twice in the writing category: one gold for a short story, and a second gold for her overall writing portfolio. Up against 200,000 other submissions this year, Diane's win is especially triumphant.

"There's no feeling like it," she said.

Batrek Yassa, a New Jersey high school senior, also won two awards — a silver medal for his drawing, "Portrait of Margarita", and the Portfolio Gold Medal for his outstanding art portfolio.

"It's been fantastic, and a little overwhelming," he told me at the awards.

Both teens had advice for other kids.

"Just do what you love." Diane suggested. "If you don't feel compelled to do it, don't force it."

"Just work through anything," Batrek added. "If life throws you something, don't hide it, and don't be afraid to confront it." Create something beautiful out of your challenges, he continued, something that will "make you look at what's happening around you not through a sullen light, but to find the joys in it all."

Perhaps the most inspiring advice of the evening came from three-time Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep. She took to the Carnegie Hall stage to give a special address to all the student winners.

"The real job of an artist is not to lose hope," she said. "Not to lose that understanding that you have to keep inside you that what you have to say is unique. Nobody else knows it, and you owe it to the world."

Eight hundred remarkable teens had done just that, and were jubilantly celebrated at Carnegie Hall.

Before the awards ceremony, Kid Reporter Grace McManus interviewed guest speaker Meryl Streep. Check out the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Blog for more on that interview!

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