Art is a Necessity: A Message from a Local Scholastic Art Gold Medal Recipient

An Indian Valley High School Senior is showcasing the importance of art in schools following her national recognition.

EmilyShonk_HeadshotEmily Shonk’s clay sculpture portfolio was among more than 350,000 submissions to the Scholastic Art and Writing Award national competition. Her portfolio, ‘Tasty and Fashionable,’ consisted of 8 rings of tiny food each less than an inch in size.

And recently she learned she was chosen as one of only 16 students to receive top honors in the 95th annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, known as the Gold Medal Portfolio. As part of this recognition, she received a $10,000 cash scholarship to any school.

As a Gold Medal Portfolio recipient, Emily will have her work publically displaced in the Art.Write.Now.2018 National Exhibition and will be honored on June 7th at Carnegie Hall as part of a week-long national celebration in New York City.

Art has been a part of Shonk’s life for as long as she can remember, “Both of my parents have always been very arts. My dad is a fantastic drawer, and my mom is great at painting,” she explained. “Because of this, I was pretty much making my own art since I could pick up a pencil.”

SundayShonk explained that it is essential for students to have the opportunity to experience art in schools. “Everyday we’re surrounded by art. It’s important we learn just how much art shows up in our everyday lives and we learn how to admire that art and improve upon it,” she said. “I wouldn’t have realized what I want to do with my life if it weren’t for art class.”

Taco and NachosAnd Shonk’s art teacher, Sara Dittfeld, has witnessed first hand how art has transformed Shonk’s life. Dittfeld has been teaching at Indian Valley for 13 years. She started her career with the district in the elementary school and worked her way to the middle school and now to the high school where she’s served for five years.

“Emily was in my first kindergarten class, so I’ve been able to be with her throughout her art experiences in school,” she explained. “Seeing her and other students grow as artists is such a privilege.”

Dittfeld stressed that art class offers more to students than just art techniques and concepts. “Students in art are able to think critically, use creative problem solving, they have to learn to adapt to situations that they might not have expected, and they often collaborate [and] work through problems together,” she added. “These skills are essential not only in art but will help them in other courses and future life situations.”

PieAnd the Indian Valley Local School district has not one national award recipient, but three in total. Senior Kali Harrison received a national silver medal in digital art and Senior Hallie Shreiner received a national silver medal in mixed media.

According to, studies show that there is, in fact, a correlation between art and other achievements. A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate in art at least three hours a day on three days each week each year are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement; to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate in art.

(Photos courtesy of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers)

Michaela Madison Reporting

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: