Friday Harbor art students bring home the 'Gold'

'Why?' by Alaina Scheffer.
— image credit: Contributed art

The Winter Olympics isn't the only place gleaming with gold.

In Friday Harbor, two high school students are sporting gold medals of their own—for art.

Friday Harbor High School seniors Alaina Scheffer and Ellery Von Dassow won top honors at the 2014 Western at Large Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Competition, a juried competition featuring works or art submitted by students from 10 western states, including California, Colorado, Oregon, Hawaii, Nevada and Washington.

The portfolios submitted by Ellery and Alaina, with eight works of art in each, were selected "Gold Key" award winners at this year's regional student art and writing competition. Nearly 900,000 original works of art and writing have been judged as part of the competition in the last five years alone. Only a small percentage receive the designation of Gold Key, Silver Key or Honorable Mention.

As two of only five 2014 Gold Key winners, Alaina and Ellery's portfolios will advance to the national competition (results are expected to be released online March 17).

"I thought it was very astonishing that two of the five came from our little school," Ellery said.

Von Dassow 'Arrested'In addition to the Gold Key portfolio award, Ellery earned another Gold Key for a drawing entitled "But On Paper, Ma'am," and a Silver Key for a drawing which he titled "Arrested." In addition to her Gold Key portfolio, Alaina received Honorable Mention for two drawings and for a painting entitled "Why?"

"This is a tremendous honor and recognition of the hard work and dedication of our students," art instructor Andy Anderson said.

Anderson noted that groups like the Island Museum of Art, local parent-teacher associations, the state arts commission and private donors have stepped in to help keep the public school art program alive at a time when school districts are hard-pressed to pay for such programs.

"Talented kids like Ellery and Alaina are clearly worth supporting," he said.

The two AP art students, both of whom earned state awards a year ago, solidified their spot on a growing list of award-winning Friday Harbor High School art students. Last year, six AP art students earned the highest possible score of “5” for 24-piece portfolios reviewed as part of the annual College Board Advanced Placement Art program.

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