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North Dakota students win honors at national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

The nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists and Writers has announced the national winners of the 2015 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the nation's longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7–12.

Two national award winners were named from North Dakota. Zach Howatt, a 10th grader at Northern Cass High School in Hunter, who won a gold medal in art for his drawing “Daughter of Man,” and Sophie Glessner, an 11th grader at  Sheyenne High School in West Fargo, who won a silver medal in writing for her short story “That’s How Summer Passed.”

This program year, more than 1,900 of the most talented teens from 47 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and American schools abroad received national recognition and gained access to exhibition and publication opportunities, as well as access to college scholarships. This year’s list of distinguished jurors included artist Andres Serrano, poet Nikki Giovanni, Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner, artist Wangechi Mutu and comic artist Dash Shaw.

All art and writing submissions are judged based on the program’s three criteria: originality, technical skill and emergence of personal vision or voice. Student works are first adjudicated regionally through the more than 100 local affiliates of the alliance. More than 300,000 works of art and writing were submitted at the regional level in 28 categories, which include poetry, painting, architecture, short story and fashion design.

Statewide judging was performed by the North Dakota Affiliate of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, a partnership between the Red River Valley Writing Project at NDSU and Plains Art Museum, both based in Fargo.

Local winners from the Fargo-West Fargo area in writing included Glessner; Kooper Shagena from Liberty Middle School, West Fargo, two silver keys; Irene Buhendwa from Fargo’s North High, honorable mention; and Jadyn Leiseth from Sheyenne 9th Grade Center, West Fargo, honorable mention.

Local winners in art included Megan Vetter, a home-schooled student from West Fargo, gold key, and Nathan Maliscke from Fargo’s South High, silver key.

The following area students received honorable mentions in art: Jwan Al Selim, Sheyenne 9th Grade Center; Clare Bath, Shanley High School, Fargo; Irene Buhendwa, North High; Olivia Van Renterghem, Discovery Middle School, Fargo; and Phillip Wyganowski, Liberty Middle School.

“The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards reflect the diverse landscape of today’s young creative thinkers,” said Virginia McEnerney, executive director of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, the administrator of the Scholastic Awards. “Year after year we see more of the nation’s most talented and innovative teens emerge from different parts of the country, and it is our privilege to provide them with a platform to share and amplify their unique voices with a national audience.”

In June, national award-winning teens from across the country will gather in New York to attend the National Celebration series of events in their honor, hosted by the Alliance.

For more information about the alliance, visit For more information about the award winners, contact Kelly Sassi, director of the Red River Valley Writing Project at NDSU, at or 701-318-2452.

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North Dakota State University
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Last Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2022 12:12:08 PM
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