BRATTLEBORO -- In the last two years, several photography students at Brattleboro Union High School have won Scholastic awards at the regional and state level, and last spring David Mazor, who teaches photography at BUHS, received an award recognizing him "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors."
"Last year alone, there were 11 awards total in photography for my students in Vermont," he said. "Three Gold Keys, four Silver Keys, four Honorable Mentions, and two of those Gold Keys -- Kasey Kidder and Lizzie Benton -- went on to win American Vision Awards."
Students are beginning to gather their work to submit to this year's Scholastic awards. In addition to photography, there are awards in various writing genres (Journalism, Flash Fiction, Persuasive Writing, Poetry and others) and 2-D and 3-D arts categories ranging from architecture, ceramics and glass, drawing and painting to fashion, jewelry and video game design.
"Right now we've begun to register students," Mazor said. "They're choosing the best of the best in the work they've produced in and out of school. Sam Green went to Kenya with a group of students, and there are others who have just submitted work from the Level 1 photography class, to show the range of work. Some are submitting as many as five or six pieces, both digital and analog-based."
Mazor noted that technology has had a dramatic effect on photography.
"Even before high school, kids are capable of creating the most incredible images -- from their travels, from hanging out with friends," he commented. "It's a way for these artists to express themselves."
Toward the end of January, students learn whether they are winners at the state level, according to Mazor.
"At the state level the awards range from Honorable Mention to the Gold Key, and the Gold Key winners are brought to the national level," he explained. "Awards include certificates and medals and there's also an opportunity for scholarships, from as little as few hundred dollars to a full ride, based on the school."
Windham County residents will have an opportunity to see the winning entries at the state level, as the Brattleboro Museum is planning an exhibit to showcase them.
"The show will be up for only a few weeks at some point next year," said Mazor. "The show will include drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics and writing -- and the winners in writing step up and read their pieces."
He commented that he encourages his students to display their work and submit it for competitive judging.
"I push the kids to submit, and we talk about the different levels of judgment, like in my class versus the Scholastic level, and that it's important to accept criticism," he said. "I try to teach my students that they don't have to have their names in the big books to be great photographers.
"The Scholastic art competition is one way to show them that, especially when they win awards at various levels -- I say when, not if, because I'm very confident that my students will continue to win awards over the years," he said. "The one thing I would strive for is more kids going on for national recognition and even coming home with scholarships. It's constantly ongoing -- there's no end to the success."
Maggie Cassidy teaches French at Brattleboro Union High School.