ELYRIA — One student winning a Scholastic Art and Writing Award is an amazing accomplishment. But two students from the same high school? Practically unheard of.
Yet, Elyria High School can boast three national winners this year.
Seniors Walter Campbell and Megan Lescher and junior Noah Katrinchak traveled to New York City this month to walk across the stage at Carnegie Hall and claim their prizes.
“It’s something I would not have imagined I’d get at all,” Noah said. “I never really thought of my art as something large that would stand out. I’m from little old Elyria. I never thought anything great would happen.”
Lorain County students entered 1,280 works of art, which were appraised by 12 judges, said Elyria art teacher Mel Rainey, who serves as chairman for Scholastic in Lorain County.
Students are awarded honorable mention, a silver key or a gold key. Fifty Lorain County students received a gold key. Of those 50, the top five received the American Vision. Those winners competed at the national level.
When he learned his artwork had been selected on the national level, Noah couldn’t believe it. “I thought they were lying to me,” he recalled.
There were 220,000 national entries, 20,000 gold keys and 1,800 national winners.
“Three students are the most we’ve ever had in any year,” Rainey said. “Our students are in the top 1 percent in the nation.”
Megan was awarded the silver key. Walter was awarded the gold. Noah won the American Vision medal.
Walter, who plans to study physics and astronomy at Oberlin College in the fall, never saw himself as an artistic person.
“To win a gold key, that’s amazing,” he said. “I never imagined myself winning a gold medal for a painting. I’m more analytical. When it happened, I was really surprised. I always thought my one sister was the artist in our family. It was a real eye-opener for me.”
Megan was speechless when she heard the news.
“I was like, ‘Wow. Me? Out of all of those people,’” Megan said. “It was very exciting.”
Megan plans to attend Kent State University and major in art.
“Drawing relaxes me,” she said. “It calms me down. It’s my talent, my love.”
Rainey, Elizabeth Cleary and Dana Cerrito have guided the students through their art careers at Elyria High.
“We have had them since their freshman year and seen them grow and mature with their art,” Rainey said.
What set these three apart?
“People connected with their artwork,” Cerrito said. “Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but there is meaning behind it. It’s deeper, which you don’t really see at the high school level.”