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SAAS Students Receive the Most Gold Keys for Photography Ever Awarded in Scholastic Arts

Photo of Seattle Academy Scholastics Art and Writing Competition 2021

Seattle Academy students won 16 Regional Gold Key Awards — 11 for photography, the most ever! — at this year’s Scholastics Art and Writing Competition. This competition is “the nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens,” as their website boasts. For the past 12 years, SAAS students have been submitting their strongest visual art and writing for consideration. Indeed, this program lives up to its reputation, with previous winners finding their work in a NYC gallery or recognized at a ceremony in Carnegie Hall. Part of allure is the size and reach of this award program. 

The Scholastic Art and Writing Competition is two-fold: Regionals and Nationals. Gold Key Medal winners at the Regional level then move on to be judged in the National Awards Competition. Our students create their submissions as part of their coursework at SAAS. Students have free reign to create their own, unique personal works; their strongest work is then submitted for consideration. Photography teacher Rebekah Rocha, MFA, reflects on the process this year:

This year was incredibly challenging, but also incredibly rewarding as students really had to push themselves to develop new ways of working without the school studios and direct connection with their peers and me. Some students revisited old work or themes, others tried completely new directions in their work process or style. Many of the students created intense emotional work directly addressing the personal and societal challenges faced this year. All of the students put an immense amount of heart, tears, honesty and creativity into their work and grew so much. Their process in photography class directly embodies the SAAS mission as they explore with curiosity, innovation and resolve.

Part 1: Regionals

At this year’s Regional At Large Competition, 80,000 teens across the country entered more than 230,000 works of art and writing. This makes it all the more incredible that SAAS students were awarded 16 Gold Key Awards and 20 Silver Key Awards. Eleven of the Gold Key Awards were given for photography works, the most ever awarded for photography.  

Students put their voice, their experiences, and their emotions from the past year into these submissions. You can catch these voices and the reaction of student winners in this video of the Regional Winners Ceremony. *Scroll down for a full listing of the winning participants at the bottom of this article. *Scroll down for a full listing of the winning participants at the bottom of this article.

Part 2: Nationals

Three of our Advanced Photography seniors were awarded Silver Key Medals in the National Competition. To accomplish this, they had to win Gold Key Medals in Regionals, and then pass a second round of judging at Nationals. Margaux Johnston '21, Kate MacArthur '21, and Mazzy Rosenast '21 did just this. “I've submitted to Scholastic every year of high school, and to be recognized nationally in my final trimester leads me to realize just how much I've grown as a photographer in the last four years,” said Kate. “To me, this photo is a quiet reflection on 2020, and I feel so honored that it was selected to represent such a seminal year.” 

All three students submitted photographs that were regarded for their technical expertise and conceptual resolve. Only 2,000 of the 230,000 works received National Medals, which puts these students’ work in the top 1% of all submissions. Read the full Letter of Awards from Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit organization that presents the Scholastic Art & Media Awards.

“Lockdown,” “Seeing Double,” and “Church” (depicted below) very much so tell the story of this past year. Margaux reflects on her moment of recognition: “When I received news of my award, I was over the moon! This year has been creatively stifling in a lot of ways, so it felt good to have my dedication to my art recognized. Despite the pandemic, Rebekah and the other art teachers have done a great job making sure that art supplies were always within reach — without proper tools, I never would have made it this far!” 

Huge congratulations to all of the winners of this year’s Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. Special thanks to our Arts Faculty for their tireless efforts in supporting these young student artists. 

Photo of Kate MacArthur 21 Photography Lockdown 2020

Kate MacArthur ’21: Photography, “Lockdown” 2020


Photo by Mazzy Rosenast 21 Photography Seeing Double 2020

Mazzy Rosenast ’21: Photography, “Seeing Double” 2020



Photo of Margaux Johnston 21 Photography Church 2020

Margaux Johnston ’21: Photography, “Church” 2020


Regionals - Gold Key Awards

  • Beatrice Cunard '22 : Photography (2 Gold Awards)
  • Katie Drais '22: Photography
  • Mia Hejlsberg '21: Photography (2 Gold Awards)
  • Margaux Johnstone '21: Photography and Ceramics (2 Gold Awards)
  • Kate MacArthur '21: Photography and Personal Essay (3 Gold Awards)
  • Mazzy Rosenast '21: Photography (2 Gold Awards)
  • Sofie Rosenquist '21: Photography
  • Ethan Lin '22: Painting
  • Aminta Malcolm '21: Painting
  • Emma Sindel-Demcey '21: Mixed Media

Regionals - Silver Key Awards

  • Mia Christ '21: Photography 
  • Marley Dougan '21: Photography
  • Izze Escalona '22: Photography
  • Aliyah Goldberg '22: Photography (2 Silver Awards)
  • Mia Hejlsberg '21: Photography
  • Margaux Johnston '21: Photography and Painting (2 Silver Awards)
  • Kate MacArthur '21: Photography (3 Silver Awards)
  • Mazzy Rosenast '21: Photography (3 Silver Awards)
  • Sofie Rosenquist '21: Photography (3 Silver Awards)
  • Sophia Vaughan '22: Photography
  • Maika Kudo-King '24: Mixed Media
  • Sofie Pichler '23: Painting

Regionals - Honorable Mentions

  • Ella Gonchar '21: Fashion
  • Adam Bishop '21: Drawing/Illustration
  • Aminta Malcolm '21: Painting
  • Gigi Gimbel-Sherr '25: Sculpture
  • Sofie Pichler '23: Drawing/Illustration
  • Avery Siebrecht '22: Drawing/Illustration

Nationals - Silver Key Awards

  • Kate MacArthur '21: Photography, “Lockdown” 2020
  • Mazzy Rosenast '21: Photography, “Seeing Double” 2020
  • Margaux Johnston '21: Photography, “Church” 2020