Return to Headlines

8 SISD middle school art students win Junior VASE platinum awards

 SISD Junior VASE platinum awards winners

Eight outstanding middle school students were selected among the top ten percent of the more than 300 participants in the citywide Junior VASE competition.

Each of these outstanding students earned a Platinum Medallion for their artwork claiming more than half of the platinum awards up for grabs in the citywide Junior VASE competition.

"We are so incredibly proud of the representation we had this year at the Junior VASE art competition,” said SISD assistant fine arts director Candace Printz. “We had the most teacher and student entries in the entire city, during a pandemic, nonetheless. By giving these students the opportunity to be a part of this event, it allows for them to be creative and encourages critical thinking. This event helps them to improve their artwork, while also boosting self-esteem."

The competition connects middle school students with an expert in the art field, usually a local artist, to receive feedback on their artwork, so that students can improve their portfolios.

SISD students claimed four of the five Division 1 spots, two of the three Division 2 spots, and two of the four Division 3 spots.

John Drugan School eighth grader Oscar Alvarez was one of 12 SISD Platinum Medallion winners.

His art teacher Laura Aragon said she noticed Alvarez’s talent early on and placed him in the honors class.

“I feel like it’s really important for students to be a part of this because you’re not just competing against students at your school, but also against other schools in the district and schools throughout the El Paso area. In order for him to excel among all those students he had to stand out and he did because he is an outstanding student.”

Alvarez submitted a piece he created in the seventh grade depicting objects like trees and school supplies spilling out of a person, which he said is a representation of how an artistic person can’t contain all the creativity within them.

“I like art because in my mind I have a lot of things that I want to share about how I feel and my point of view on the world. Sometimes I feel that there are problems in the world that people should notice and as an artist I’m able to put that on paper and share it with others, so hopefully we can make some changes to the world,” Alvarez said.

Bianca Sanchez, an art teacher at William D. Slider Middle School, said she immediately recognized the potential in her sixth-grade student Alexa Varela.

“From the first drawings that I saw from her I knew I could push her into a higher level, and she had never taken art before. For her to have the talent that she does at such a young age is really exciting to me,” Sanchez said.

Valera, who was awarded the Platinum Medallion for her imaginative self-portrait, said she uses art as an outlet to express how she is feeling or what she is thinking because sometimes she struggles with expressing herself.

“Events like these, which are encouraged by the district, my school, and the teachers, are important because they are preparing me for the future,” Varela said. “Practicing helps but seeing other students' artwork also encouraged me to try harder.”

Published June 17, 2021

Strategic Direction: College and Career Readiness