Four Students Win High Honors in Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Ashley Hong, Staff Writer

Four students from Ward Melville were awarded the prestigious Silver Medal in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition this year. These students worked tirelessly for months in order to submit pieces that would compete against those from students from across the nation. The award winners are junior Henry DaCosta, senior Marvin Lee, senior Erika Riley, and junior Grace Zhao.


Henry DaCosta

Winning Work: “The Shore”

Award: Silver Medal

Category: Film

Over the summer, Henry produced a music video for a song by one of his favorite artists. Henry’s film starred Nick Mancuso, a friend who had acted in many of his films before. Since Nick was leaving for college within the next few months, they had decided to make one last film before he left. This video was based on their thoughts of the meaning of a song that they both loved.

When he found out that he had won this honor, Henry felt good that his art was appreciated and liked by others.

Henry had always loved photography, movies, and cinema from a young age. When he was eleven years old, he realized that he was able to combine these two interests, and has ever since been in love with filmmaking.


Marvin Lee

Winning Work: “Self-Colonization”

Award: Silver Medal

Category: Architecture

Marvin’s description of his project was:

“Self-Colonization” is primarily an exploration of the idea that clothes are the most minimal form of architecture, for it also is about crafting the space around human beings. The dress was created over the summer, and I have always looked carefully at the natural folds it created in itself. By using the wooden picks, I structured these arbitrary and transient folds and drapes into something more concrete and everlasting. These structures are all self-supporting, and the forces are spread throughout the whole dress so that they don’t need any external support. The structures are also supposed to resemble those of human architecture; structures resemble domes, levers, dams, and cliff houses. The title of the piece is self-colonization because the dress self-supports its own colonization into a more concrete, therefore more habitable place for living being. It resembles the way us human beings, originated from nature, appropriate the nature’s characteristics, exaggerate it to our own benefit.

Marvin said that when he found out that he won, he was more numb than surprised. He did not know much about the contest, and therefore was not able to realize how great of an honor his achievement was. But as he started talking to other people who won the same award, he became more and more excited.

Marvin has always wanted to do something creative, even though he did not realize it was going to be architecture. Although was initially interested in music, he quickly realized that this field did not fit well with him. Architecture, on the other hand, had always been around him ever since he was young.

Marvin is going into college as an architecture major, but he claims that his plans could easily change. Marvin has also been interested in fashion ever since he visited the pivotal “Savage Beauty: Alexander McQueen” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Erika Riley

Winning Work: “Bad Ideas”

Award: Silver Medal

Category: Short Story

Erika wrote her winning piece in Ms. Thomas’ Independent Writing for Publication class for their song story assignment. This project required the students to choose a song and write a story inspired by it. The song that Erika chose was “The Place Where I Feel Most Like Me” by Meg and Dia. Even though none of the original ideas that she had had made it into the final piece, the song was still a really great place to start.

When she found out that she won, Erika was excited because it was a great honor. She had won the award in the past, but stated that it was really nice to be able to win something during her senior year.

Erika had started writing stories when she was in kindergarten because she had loved to read. She started writing picture books, and then short stories and novels later on in elementary school. The writer Gordon Korman came to talk to her school in fourth or fifth grade, and his presentation had really motivated her. It was the first time that she had really heard a writer talk about their career, and she realized that she also wanted to follow that life path. From that point on, Erika just kept working harder. She also said that writing was a personal thing, and she kept journals and tries to write a lot of different types of pieces, such as poetry.

Erika plans to study writing in college as a major. Creative writing is the most popular major at the school that she is attending. She completely understands that she’s most likely not going to end up becoming a famous novelist, but she loves to write and states that going into any field that has anything to do with writing would be amazing. Working in publication is definitely a possibility for Erika, but she knows that in four years, she could definitely change her mind. Erika is planning on double majoring in a field such as sociology or gender studies.


Grace Zhao

Winning Work: “Adagio in G Major”

Award: Silver Medal

Category: Short Story

Grace got the inspiration for her short story as a dancer. She had seen dancers experience some of the same things that the protagonist in her story goes through. When she found out she won this award, Grace was pleasantly surprised.

A summer course called “Creative Writing” sparked Grace’s interest in writing. It had introduced Grace to the realm of contemporary writing, which she fell in love with. She claimed that the course was extremely helpful because students rarely study modern fiction and non-fiction in school. She had never realized how experimental and multidimensional writing could be.