Pickerington High School Central recently flashed its artistic flair when by having four students receive Scholastic Art Awards in a regional competition.
Central seniors Tobias Katz, Jasmine Rajavadee and Riana Tuwaidan, along with Eliza Lange, a junior at the school, each this month were recognized as being among the most talented central Ohio artists in grades 7-12.
Katz, Rajavadee and Lange each received Gold Keys for their art submissions and now will be in competition for National Awards, which would move them on to New York City to be judged among works from other students across the country.
Tuwaidan received an honorable mention in the regional judging in a competition against 813 other individual submissions.
"The Scholastic Art Awards celebrate 90 years in art," said Matt Young, a Central art teacher and chairman of the school's art department.
"It's national, and there's a huge scholarship as part of it," Young said.
"It's in music, theater and (visual) art. Most art schools will give some form of scholarship if you are accepted for a Scholastic Award."
The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers identifies teenagers with exceptional artistic and literary talent and, in addition to regional showcases, seeks to put those students' works in the national spotlight through The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, according to the awards website.
Past award winners include Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Joyce Carol Oates, Ned Vizzini and Zac Posen.
Any student in grades 7-12 is eligible to submit works to their regional competition. Judging occurred earlier this month at the Columbus College of Art and Design.
The Central Art Club helps pay entry fees for the contest for selected pieces with money raised from fundraisers.
Award-winning students are recognized with Key Awards.
The Silver Key Award denotes regional honors and artworks receiving Gold Keys go on to compete at the national level.
Katz took home the most Gold Keys in Ohio, with four. A three-dimensional artist who enrolled in his first high school art class this year, he was honored for a portfolio of jewelry pieces, as well as for individual submissions of additional jewelry, a table and chairs.
Like Rajavadee and Lange, Katz's pieces now are in the running for inclusion in a national gallery in Washington, D.C.
"They would fly me out to meet artists from all 50 states," Katz said. "It would really be an awesome opportunity."
Katz was spurred to try his artistic hand this year after spending time with a friend in Young's classroom.
The decision led Katz to take Young's Advanced Placement class, and the student credits the teacher for opening a new world to him.
"I have just been accepted to CCAD and I'm definitely considering going there," Katz said. "Definitely with (Young's) encouragement, that has given me the opportunity to be an artist today."
The three other recognized artists weren't immediately available for comment, but their art teacher at Central, Craig Huffman, rattled off numerous superlatives in describing their individual talents and dedication.
Lange received a Gold Key in the computer graphics category, and Huffman said her free spirit and positive disposition flow through her creations.
"(Lange's) a really cool kid," he said. "She's super optimistic and she's always interested in trying new stuff out.
"She'll try something new out and come in after school and work on it. I love her positive attitude and it comes out (in her art)."
Rajavadee received a Gold Key for an individual submission in animation, and she also received gold and silver keys for portfolio submissions in animation.
"(Rajavadee's) one of the most talented figure drawers I've ever had," Huffman said. "She draws stuff out of her head, and a lot of people can't do that.
"She's so self-disciplined. I can definitely see her going into animation or something like that."
Tuwaidan's computer graphics skills earned her an honorable mention in the competition, and Huffman she's very much an artist on the rise.
"(Tuwaidan's) kind of decided she wants to go into art in the work field, and she's really grown a huge amount this year.
"This year she's really gotten motivated. She really came alive and she's produced a lot of really great work."
Huffman added this year's crop of Scholastic Art Award winners continues a tradition of impressive and evolving artists, and said there are many others at Central whose works are worthy of notice.
"Look at other schools, especially places like Upper Arlington, which spends about 40 percent more per student than we do," he said. "They're funding is so much higher than we have and places like Dublin are using professional-grade computer graphics programs.
"We're using free stuff and we're still beating them out in that realm."
Young also reveled in the successes of Central's awards winners, as well as all the students who put their works up for judging.
"I'm really proud of all the kids that submitted, even if they didn't get stuff in," he said. "It's always nice as a teacher to see when your kids get recognized.
"These are kids that aren't out on the field or that are going to make the winning bucket, but they are very talented."