Richard Murray and his mom, Samira Murray.
Sixteen students from across Shelby County soared to great heights over the summer, receiving national recognition for their work in art, theatre, and science and traveling to places like New York City to attend award ceremonies.
The National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards (NSAWA) honored 11 middle and high school students from the Mid-South. All were Gold & Silver Key winners of the Mid-South Scholastic Awards, an annual juried art exhibition presented by the Brooks Museum League and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
White Station High School Senior Richard Murray says he was surprised when he unexpectedly received a congratulatory text from a friend, “I went to the website and that’s how I found out I’d won.” Murray received a Silver Medal for drawing.
Student submissions are judged based on the program’s three criteria: Originality, technical skill, and emergence of personal vision or voice.
Richard, his mother, Samira Murray, and family flew to New York to attend the awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall, which featured Whoopie Goldberg, Chelsea Clinton, and YouTube personality JennXPenn.
“It’s humbling, there’s so much incredible art and so many good artists,” says Murray. “I also liked that the judges have a respect for all art styles and I respect them for bringing YouTube into the equation.”
Additional NSAWA winners include: Sara Abdelfattah • Silver Medal, fashion • Bolton High Megan Cox • Gold Medal, drawing • White Station High Ian Kago • Silver Medal, drawing • Cordova High Laura Lester • Silver Medal, painting • Collierville High Aylen Mercado • Gold Medal, art portfolio • White Station High Richard Murray • Silver Medal, drawing • White Station High Emma Rudd • Gold Medal, mixed media • Lausanne Collegiate Zach Smith • Silver Medal, digital art • Houston High Sarah Stobbe • Silver Medal, drawing • Bon Lin Middle Suzie Wilder • American Visions Medal, fashion • Briarcrest Christian High Jennifer Xiao • Silver Medal, painting • White Station High
Also gathering in New York were the top actors and actresses from the National High School Musical Theatre Awards competition. Representing the Orpheum Theatre were Best Actor Maclean Mayers of Germantown High and Best Actress Erica Peninger of Hernando High. The two spent a week in rehearsal with theater professionals, preparing music and dance numbers for the eighth annual Jimmie Awards show.
Maclean Mayers was among the three finalists for Best Actor. As a runner-up, he received a $2,500 scholarship. In addition, Mayers received the Spirit of the Jimmy Awards, a special commendation given to one teen each year who personifies the positive spirit of musical theatre program. • To learn more, go to memphisparent.com.
Finally, art and theatre kids weren’t the only winners. Three sixth-grade students from White Station Middle School traveled to Hunt Valley, Maryland as national finalists in the U.S. Army-sponsored eCYBERMISSION competition.
Students Sophia Floyd, Audrey Lambert and Ayrika Anderson — aka Supernova 8 — were one of 20 teams that made it to nationals to compete in this web-based STEM program. Teams proposed solutions to real community problems and presented to judges at state, regional, and national levels. Led by science teacher Janice Brown, Supernova 8 developed a prototype called SWISH (Storm Water In Sewers Helper). Its purpose is to keep trash, debris and hazardous liquids out of the water supply.
While at the competition, the girls also participated in STEM challenges, worked out with Army non-coms and toured the U.S. Capitol. The girls also won $3,000 in U.S. savings bonds as state and southeast region winners.
Over 7,000 teams in grades 6 to 9 entered this year’s competition, with just 20 teams going to nationals. White Station High School also had a team at the national finalist level. — Does your kid have talent? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with Can-do Kid in the subject line. We’ll consider him/her for an upcoming column.