What a weekend!
First of all, huge congratulations to the students who won National Medals in the 2013 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards! As always, we were absolutely blown away by the caliber of the student talent, and this year’s festivities felt extra-special as they marked the Awards’ 90th anniversary. Needless to say, the celebration that took place in New York City this past weekend was nothing short of awesome. More than 800 teens and their families and teachers gathered at Carnegie Hall on Friday night. Outside, the Empire State Building was lit in gold to honor the student winners, while inside, they were congratulated via video by First Lady Michelle Obama, and in person by Sarah Jessica Parker and surprise guest Usher. After the seniors took their bow onstage, Terrance Hayes recognized this year’s National Student Poets, and designer Zac Posen was presented with the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award.
Of course, the star-studded event was amazing, but perhaps my favorite part of the evening was feeling the energy of all those talented teens gathered in one (massive) room; their enthusiasm was practically palpable. Tucked away backstage, I listened as Dick Robinson, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Scholastic, took his place at the lectern to explain the history of the Awards. His father established the program 90 years ago “to give those high school students who demonstrate superior talent and achievement in things of the spirit and of the mind at least a fraction of the honors and rewards accorded to their athletic classmates for demonstrating their bodily skills.” Not that anyone should have to choose between the arts and sports, but as someone who grew up writing and doing theater instead of playing volleyball and soccer like my friends, a chill went up my spine as the audience of creative teenagers burst into appreciative applause. I clapped from backstage, not only for this year’s Award winners, but also for all the student artists and writers out there who could relate to that sentiment… and selfishly, maybe a little for my teenage self.