Homewood-Flossmoor High School art students have won nearly $2 million in college scholarships and top honors for their art work in recent competitions.
“We’re really happy for the students, said Jackie Wargo, art teacher and chair of the Fine Arts Department at H-F. “We’re trying to get them connected to as much positivity for the work that they do as we can. They’ve lost out on so much” this year due to remote learning.
While several art shows were canceled, the annual Illinois High School Art Exhibition competition was held virtually. The exhibition is divided into a General Exhibition, Senior Scholarship Exhibition and Early College Program competition.
H-F was among more than 100 high schools in Illinois that were part of the judging. The awards ceremony was live and held via Zoom.
Students’ works are judged in eight categories with seven awards in each category. Wargo said to have three H-F students win in the competition from more than 500 possible entries was quite an honor.
In the general exhibition, Jabril Hull, a senior, received an honorable mention in design; Ben Turnquest, a senior, won a silver award in time arts for his video piece, “Sleepless Nights,” a reflective piece on his future plans, and Jayla Watkins, a senior, won best of show in photography.
Works by Oscar de la Torre, Winston Doss and Trevor Robinson were also part of the general exhibition.
In the Senior Scholarship Exhibition, Cameron Williams, a senior, accumulated more than $377,000 in college scholarships for his photography work. He was the fourth highest scholarship earner in the state.
Students submitted online portfolios of their work for the judging. Works by six H-F entrants — Jayla Cray, Winston Doss, Jabril Hull, Kyra Lucas, Isabella Palanca and Williams
— amassed a total of $1.19 million in scholarships.
Art teacher Wargo said H-F was one of 22 high schools to have students recognized with more than $1 million in scholarships.
In the third component of the IHSAE show, H-F juniors Janet Amuh and Athena Davis were awarded Early College Program scholarships for summer programs. These scholarships are meant to give sophomores and juniors a chance to experience art programs at various colleges and universities. Janet and Athena submitted portfolios for judging.
Janet’s scholarship is to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Athena’s scholarship is to the School of the Art Institute Chicago.
In addition, Janet won first place in the student division of the Museum of Science & Industry’s Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition. Her pen-and-ink drawing and the work of H-F student Kailah Austin are part of the exhibit that celebrates achievements in science, technology, engineering, art and medicine. The work of the two H-F students will be on exhibit at the museum through July 4.
“For us as teachers, this year obviously was not ideal,” Wargo said. Being remote meant students were sending photos or videos of art and performances for assessment. It took away from the classroom interactions between teachers and students as they develop their art, whether that was in the fine arts, theater, music or video.
To have the art students win at the IHSAE statewide competition was very reassuring for the fine arts teachers. Wargo said as a department, remote learning “is so not natural for us. We’re not a department that lends itself to being online all the time.” She credits the students’ success to teachers who “have been incredibly creative” this year.