Students win big at Scholastics contest
Each January, the Scholastics Art and Writing contest is held. It is the most prestigious art competition at the middle and high school level; if art was a sport, then Scholastics is State. Teachers submit works of art that are then adjudicated by a professional panel of teachers and artists. Pieces that are accepted into the show are awarded either Gold or Silver Keys, as well as Honorable Mentions. To be blunt, winning an award (any distinction) at Scholastics is incredibly difficult. With that being said, Mountain Range High School had an outstanding result with 16 total winners this year. Of those 16 winners, 13 students were from Mr. Wimmer's art classes; 8 Gold Keys, 2 Silver Keys, 2 Honorable Mentions and 1 Honorable Mention Senior Portfolio. These results by far were the most he has had his students earn during his 19 years of education. He attributes this to his students' willingness to push art through message making and content. Emotion is a critical ingredient in art; through its creation to the response from the viewer.
One of the more talked about pieces that won a Gold Key is a sculpture called "Vaped and Hollow" that speaks upon the dangers and addiction of vaping amongst teenagers. Mr. Wimmer shared his own story of sobriety to his classes and challenged them to go 24 hours without vaping and even more of a challenge, to be willing to quit by giving up their vape pen. That first day, 1 pen did indeed come in from a very brave student. Within a few weeks, over 90 pens were turned in by students who were willing to rid this toxin from their lives. Instead of just discarding them, after Mr. Wimmer discussed with that very first student to turn in their pen, they decided to make a plastic tape, hollow cast of a mannequin and inserted the pens inside showing how young bodies are being loaded with poison. This is not to say that vaping is a problem only at Mountain Range High School, but nationwide with vaping among high school students being up over 1,800% since 2011. The sculpture houses roughly $3,000 worth of vape pens. It has been presented to the entire freshman class during 4th hour BASE Camp at the school with Mr. Wimmer and other students who admitted they are struggling and want to help their younger peers avoid this vicious cycle. Since then, 10 more pens have come in. News of the sculpture has even reached the ears of Parents Against Vaping and E-Cigarettes (PAV-e) as they contacted Mr. Wimmer to be a volunteer ambassador for them as well as potentially speak with his students at their upcoming annual "Clear the Vapor" national conference.
All Gold and Silver Keys from Scholastics will be on display at either (based on their medium) the Denver Art Museum or 40 West Gallery in Lakewood until late February. Gold Keys are now in a special juried event to see if they get chosen as a Gold Medal at the national level at which student's will be asked to attend the ceremony in New York City in the summer. Results for Gold Medals are announced on March 22nd. "Vaped and Hollowed" can be seen in person at 40 West Gallery.
Here are all of the Mountain Range High School winners:
Jace Snyder - Gold Key
Cole Harwood - Silver Key
Anaya Virgil - Honorable Mention
Miranda Turner - Gold Key
Matthew Trujillo - Gold Key
Delaney Torres-Moore - Gold Key
Luke Suitts - Gold Key
Paige Kahler - Gold Key
Onyx Dilworth - Gold Key
Eric Dellett - Silver Key
Karina Dominguez - Gold Key
Aydin Manzanares - Gold Key(x2), Silver Key
Harper Cowden - Honorable Mention
Julissa Harris - Honorable Mention Portfolio
Art is a catalyst for conversation whether subjective or objective and this powerful artwork is another example of what creativity can do to help change the world, one student at a time.