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Student artists, writers, gain national recognition

February 4, 2012

In a flurry of electronically delivered hoopla, 19 Hood River Valley High School student writers and artists and one Hood River Middle School student writer received regional recognition for their work through the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards national competition.

From that group of regional winners, seven took home gold, advancing their submissions to the national level for a chance to win scholarships and professional exposure for their work.

Six HRVHS teachers supported students in submitting work this year including Gabe Judah, Jeff Lorenzen, Amirra Malak, Regena Rafelson, Cathy Stever and Kori Walsh.

More than 185,000 works were submitted to The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards at the regional level this year. Typically, just 10-15 percent of regional submissions receive medal recognition.

Winning students by category include:

Gold Keys in Art: Mikala Hoffman, 18, for her senior art portfolio, qualifying for a $10,000 scholarship competition; Abigail Agersea, 16, for photography; Cheyenne Ogden, 17, for photography; Gina Olivarez, 17, for photography; Carmen Partida, 17, for her junior art portfolio; Zoe Peterson, 15, for photography and Shanyn Yheulon, 18, for digital art.

Silver Keys in Art: Isabella Brink, 16, for digital art; Lauren Gray, 16, for photography; Nataly Garcia, 18, for digital art; Isabel Gildehaus, 17, for digital art and Madison Sanchez, 18, for photography.

Honorable Mentions in Art: Valeria Guerrero, 18, for sculpture; Maggie McCulloch, 18, for sculpture; Connor McDermott, 18, for photography; Jennifer Mikkelson, 17, for photography and Rebecca Ruchert, 17, for photography and digital art.

Winning writers include: Elizabeth Gobbo, 16, with two Gold Keys in "flash fiction" and a Silver Key in "short story"; Gilberto Galvez, 16, with two Silver Keys in "science fiction-fantasy"; and Hunter Peterson, 15, with Silver Keys in poetry (2) and "personal essay," plus five honorable mentions in poetry. Summer Bogard, a student at Hood River Middle School, also received two Silver Keys for poetry and one for "flash fiction."

For those with the gold, panelists will now review their work in New York City, forwarding the best to nationally renowned authors, poets, publishers, artists, art critics and photographers who will serve as jurors.

Those judges will select work for national awards based on three criteria: originality, technique and emergence of a personal voice or vision.

Approximately 1,500 young artists and writers earn recognition at the national level, with about 350 students awarded gold medals for art and more than 200 for writing.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards follow "blind adjudication," meaning judging is determined on a merit basis with only the art object or written manuscript under review, without any knowledge to student identity (gender, race or background).

Seniors earning national gold medals are eligible for additional scholarship consideration at colleges and art institutes across the U.S. Younger national winners may earn publication honors.

Gobbo, now a junior at HRVHS, already reached the highest level in the writing contest with her gold medal poem entitled "Heat" published in Scholastic's "The Best Teen Writing of 2010."

Established in 1923, The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is the nation's largest, longest-running, most prestigious visual and literary arts program recognizing accomplishments of students in grades 7-12.

Additional information on the annual contest may be found at

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