Cool Schools: Concord Jr. High School art program helping students win awards, develop passion

Cool Schools: Concord Jr. High School art program helping students win awards, develop passion

ELKHART, Ind. -- Some Michiana students can now call themselves award-winning artists. 

Within the last week, 38 students at Concord Jr. High School learned some of their pieces won a Scholastic Art Award. 

The national competition started in 1923 and is meant to foster and reward creativity in classrooms. 

Ten students received a Gold Key, which is the highest level of achievement. Another 10 snagged a Silver Key and 18 picked up an honorable mention. 

“This is definitely something we want them to have on their academic resume,” said Neil Boston, an art teacher at Concord Jr. High School. 

It continues a tradition of excellence at the school. 

For the last 25 years, Concord Jr. High School has brought in more Scholastic awards than any other Michiana middle school. 

“It’s showing that these kids have established, you know, something rigorous that they were able to really achieve at,” said Boston. 

Boston credits the school’s dominance to its semester long classes. He explains that allows kids to fully dive in and develop their skills and art pieces. He adds that they put an emphasis on mastering the fundamentals.  

“When students are producing art, they’re using their brain cognitively that’s not used in any other facet of curriculum,” said Boston. 

“It’s pushing students towards being their best in art,” said Ellis Connors, an eighth grader, when talking about the art program at Concord Jr. High. 

Connors sketched and painted crushed soda cans, which earned him a Gold Key. 

“I like to put things that I see in real life down on paper maybe add a little bit of a twist to it,” said Connors. 

His classmates, Andrea Garcia and Sandra Rodriguez recreated themselves in their artwork. Garcia garnered a Silvery Key while Rodriquez snagged a Gold Key. 

“I really like trying new things, so this was my first time drawing a self portrait,” said Garcia. 

The students and Boston say with each piece, lies a message that art is important to the world around us. 

“Art can actually, in my opinion, help different students because they can focus on something else that is not math, language arts,” said Garcia. 

“You can let yourself free,” said Rodriguez. “You can express what you feel.”

“It doesn’t require you to be super intelligent or super successful,” said Connors. “It just requires you and pushing yourself. I don’t think I could’ve been as involved in school and gone through as much schooling as good as I did without art because art is a good anchor. It really helped me get through maybe tough school days and it was just a big factor in keeping me going."

Concord Jr. High’s work as well as work from other Michiana students who won Scholastic awards will be on display at the South Bend Museum of Art from February 7 until March 7.

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