Stoney Creek students earn national Scholastic Art Awards

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 25, 2015

 “Two Dweebs Walk into a Salon,” by Reed Nowels.

“Two Dweebs Walk into a Salon,” by Reed Nowels.


ROCHESTER — Stoney Creek High School students recently received eight medals in the National Scholastic Art Awards, which art teacher Diane Heath said was the most in the state.

“It really is an incredible honor. We are just thrilled to have so many students be recognized. It’s pretty unprecedented. Between the last two years, we’ve had 20 National Scholastic Award winners, which saying that aloud just blows my mind,” Heath said.

Tristan Begin, 18, of Rochester, received a gold medal in the game design category for “Bound.” Begin, who has been making video games since sixth-grade, said he created the two-dimensional video game in about one week.

“Basically, there are these two dots, and you control both of them at the same time and they are moving forward, opposite to each other, and you have to make them avoid objects while looking at both of them,” he said. “It was kind of artsy in that they are like two souls that can never touch but are constantly having to deal with each other’s problems and persevere.”

Conner Stormer, 18, of Rochester, received a gold medal in photography for “Fallen,” a photo of a skateboarder crashing after doing a trick during a national skateboarding competition in Detroit last year.

“It was really crowded, so I was standing in a crowd behind a ramp and I took the photo through the legs of two other people watching, which was pretty much the only place that I could see. It looks like I am on the ground, but I am actually at eye level,” Stormer said.

Carly Steen, 17, of Rochester, received a silver medal for her mixed media work, “Into the Mist,” an oblong piece with a skull and two faces on it.

“After seeing deaths in my family, I noticed that everyone has to deal with death, but that people face it in different ways, so I illustrated that by having one face in the painting darker than the other, showing how people differentiate when dealing with death,” she said.

Elyse McLeod, 17, of Rochester, received two awards — a gold medal in the digital category for “Gut Bunnies” and a silver in the portfolio category for a collection of sculptures called “Animal Circus.” McLeod said “Gut Bunnies” is a digital illustration of intestines and lungs, with little bunnies in them.

“I really like cute and creepy stuff in general,” she said.

McLeod described the sculptures in her portfolio — which were crafted from clay and fabric — as animal humanoids dressed up like circus characters.

“They were meant to be creepy, cartoon-y and weird,” she said.

Reed Nowels, 18, of Rochester, received two silver medal awards in photography for her pieces. “Two Dweebs Walk Into a Salon”  is a black-and-white photo of her friends inside a salon in downtown Rochester. “Interaction 1” is a color photo of her 5-year-old brother and her 13-year-old sister playing on the floor over winter break.

“I thought it was a long shot that I would get anything even regionally, so it was really cool to find that out … and when I found out about nationals, I was pretty surprised,” she said.

Kayla Bates, 17, of Rochester Hills, received a silver medal in the digital category for “Incandescent,” which she described as a digital portrait of a lady and a bunch of triangles.

Bates, who said she developed her love for the computer at the age of 4, said the piece took her about a week, on and off, to create in Photoshop.

“It was really surprising to me,” she said of winning.

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program was launched in 1923 by the global children’s publishing and media company Scholastic Inc. Each year, students who excel in the visual arts and creative writing have the chance to earn recognition and scholarships.

“It makes such a significant difference for these high school and middle school students. It’s really great because you get this affirmation that what you are doing is valuable and reflective of your talent. We need those affirmations, and with art we don’t get that many opportunities for that,” said Heath.

Approximately 200 works received gold key awards, which are the highest award — including 28 individual awards and 14 portfolio awards from Stoney Creek  — and advanced to the national competition, judged in New York City. Approximately 48 national gold and silver medals were awarded — eight to Stoney Creek. Winning students and their teachers are invited to attend an exhibit in New York City and an award ceremony at Carnegie Hall in June. The artwork of gold-medal winners is museum mounted and framed for the show and then sent home to be displayed.

For more information about the program, visit