Local high school art students display artwork in Bliss Hall

The Solomon Rae Gallery is decorated with high school students’ artwork for the Scholastics Art Exhibition. Photos by Jessica Stamp / The Jambar

By Jessica Stamp

From across Northeast Ohio counties, local high school art students engaged in the Scholastics Art contest. Their artwork was put on display in the Solomon Rae Gallery and on the fourth floor of Bliss Hall at Youngstown State University.

Josh MacMillan, Hubbard high school art teacher and Northeast Ohio Regional Coordinator for Scholastics, has been in charge of the program since 2019-2020. MacMillan hopes the contest gives students a sense of direction in their lives.

“The best thing I always take away from this is hopefully the recognition that some of the kids get hopefully that allows them to think, ‘Maybe I can do something with this,’” MacMillan said. “This gives them a little bit of direction.”

Scholastics is celebrating 100 years as an organization. The Youngstown community has been participating with Scholastics for about 60 years.

MacMillan said the Youngstown Foundation, Boardman Rotary Club and Akron Children’s Hospital make financial contributions and donations to the Scholastics organization, which allows teachers in the local area to have 10 works and two portfolios for each student. The fees for submitting the work gets covered by donations rather than from the students themselves. 

342 students from the Trumbull, Mahoning, Ashtabula and Columbiana counties submitted 509 pieces of artwork for the contest. 

MacMillan, a YSU alum, said collaborating with the university means a lot to him and to the high school students participating in the contest because it allows the students to see YSU’s Department of Art and decide if they’d enjoy pursuing art in college. 

Students from grades 7-12 were able to participate in the contest and could submit any type of art such as painting, drawing, film and photography.

This year, MacMillan found a local digital artist, local teacher and a YSU art professor to judge and rank the students’ artwork from a percentage of the three categories: technical ability, artistic expression and the artists’ personal vision for the art piece. 

There are four awards students can win: honorable mention, silver key, gold key and American Visions Nominee. 

An honorable mention is where a student shows a high level of skill, but not enough to win the next level. A silver key is a regional award of excellence. A gold key is the best 7% of the artwork displayed in the show. 

The gold key winners have their artwork moved onto a competition in New York where they get judged on a national level. The American Visions Nominee is the highest award in the show and students who receive the awards also get a gold key. The top five pieces of the show go on to compete at national level.

Junior Jase Roberts from Canfield High School, senior Molly Greco from Hubbard High School, senior Delaney Grubbs from Niles McKinley High School, sophomore Antonella Gennock and senior Thomas Hull from Ursuline High School, won a gold key and American Visions Nominee.

Greg Moring, associate dean and art professor at Cliffe College of Creative Arts and Communications, said it’s nice to have local high school students come to YSU to have their art pieces displayed because it gives university students an opportunity to interact with the high school students.

An award ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Jan. 28 in the Ford Theatre of Bliss Hall. The event will have speakers from YSU, Akron Children’s Hospital and Boardman Rotary Club to talk about the student’s accomplishments. The Butler Institute of American Art will have a small reception. 

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