Four Spartans Win National Medals in the 2024 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Four St. Stephen's students in the Visual Arts program won a total of five national medals for their artwork entered in the 2024 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition. Rising senior Gracie Morton ’25 won two National Scholastic Gold Medals, and Jasmine Li ’24, Isabella Messina ’24 and Jolie Stough ’25 each received a National Scholastic Silver Medal.
“It is super exciting when one student from our school wins a national honor for their artwork, but to have four students in one year — that is just remarkable!” said Elizabeth Zepeda, Upper School Visual Studies instructor and Scanlan Gallery Director. “It speaks volumes to the dedication and guidance of our art faculty and the art students' engagement with their creative pursuits going above and beyond!”

Their work, which included the art disciplines of painting, ceramics, design and photography was selected by some of the foremost leaders in the visual and literary arts for excellence in originality, skill and the emergence of a personal voice or vision. More than 100,000 students submitted nearly 340,000 original works of art and writing to the 2024 Scholastic Awards. Fewer than 2,500 works received a national medal, which places these Spartans within the top 8% of all submissions.

The national awards follow the regional Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards show in January, which St. Stephen’s has proudly hosted since the 1990s. The works of hundreds of public, private and homeschool students in grades 7-12 in Travis, Williamson and Hays Counties are judged and winning entries are displayed in the Scanlan Gallery on campus.

Since 1923, the Awards have celebrated teen artists and writers from across the country. This year’s award recipients are now part of that legacy, joining the ranks of notable past winners, including Tschabalala Self, Stephen King, Kay WalkingStick, Charles White, Joyce Carol Oates and Andy Warhol — all of whom won Scholastic Awards when they were teens. 

Read below to learn more about each of the St. Stephen’s national award winners: 
Gracie Morton ’25 received two National Scholastic Gold Medals 
Category: Painting
Instructor: Elizabeth Zepeda

“An Apocalypse Bombarded with Primary Color”
Artist Statement: Expressing the absurdist philosophy I feel Gen Z is adopting as we grow up hearing about our planet on the path to ruin. Our generation embraces self expression and filling spaces with art, however, we do this with an inevitable apocalypse in the back of our minds. In the midst of all the color and beauty our generation works to create, there is a stamp of doom slid that persists. I represented this stamp with a stenciled skull on top of my color-drowned painting.  

Artist Statement: Through Fetch I explore rejecting a performance of femininity I've found expected of me in my teenage hood and how that rejection only leads to further confusion amongst the multitudes of female archetypes that are now fed to teenage girls through modern media. Do teenage girls have the ability to create and understand their true selves? Or have our basic conceptions of ourselves been tarnished by the millions of influences we embrace on social media.  

Jasmine Li ’24 received a National Scholastic Silver Medal
Category: Design
Instructor: Michelle Avery

"Alice in Wonderland" cover design
Artist Statement: This cover design is based on Lewis Carol’s “Alice in Wonderland," depicting not only the protagonist Alice, but also the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Red Queen. These illustrations are entirely original, with the front cover referencing the tea party and the back cover referencing the rose garden in Carol’s story.  

Jolie Stough ’25 received a National Scholastic Silver Medal
Category: Ceramics
Instructor: Britt Thorp

“Push or Pull”
Artist Statement: This piece is a hand built stoneware sculpture, glazed with white salt, depicting 3 human figures arranged around one central figure. Each individual form fights its own losing battle, asking the viewer, "what really makes us different?" Its ambiguous forms challenge the viewer to re-examine their views on empathy; to consider the emotions drawn out by the figures and find similarities in their own lives and the lives of others.  

Isabella Messina ’24 received a National Scholastic Silver Medal 
Category: Photography
Instructor: Chris Caselli

“Happy Birthday”
Artist Statement: The feeling you get on your birthday: being the center of attention, expected to put on a face — to be the entertainer and to put on a show.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213