RHS students receive top art honors

Revere students won nine Individual Gold Key Awards and two Gold Key Portfolios at the regional Scholastic Art and Writing Award ceremony. 

These awards are a part of the Scholastic Art and Writing competition, an international competition for teenagers in grades 7-12. The association focuses on acknowledging creative talent and claims the title of being the largest source of scholarships for creative teens. The competition currently offers 28 entry categories, ranging from drawing and illustration to flash fiction, with everything in between. 

Each submitted writing and art piece goes through a series of judges, all experts in their field, and is given no award, a rating of honorable mention, a Silver Key or a Gold Key. According to the association’s website, each piece is judged on originality, technical skill and emergence of personal vision or voice.

All Gold and Silver Key medalists have the opportunity to move on to an advanced stage of the competition, with the chance for national recognition, to be featured in the National Exhibition in New York City, and/or to earn scholarships. 


Kelsey Balnave, Senior

Kelsey Balnave won four individual Gold Key awards, all in the drawing & illustration category. She explained the theme that connects three of her award-winning pieces. 

“A few of them were in a concentration of duality, so one of them was a drawing of me and it was titled Myself and Itself. It was on the duality of identity; one [side] was a realistically drawn version of myself whereas the other was a surreal version of myself. It was the difference between how you think of yourself versus how people see you inside and out,” Balnave said.

Myself and Itself

Balnave began the duality-themed portfolio last school year for her AP art class. 

“The whole duality theme was centered around the idea of both a literal thing like hot and cold, sweet and sour, positive and negative and the duality of people and how those dualities relate to people as personalities. People can be two things. That’s what the whole portfolio is about,” Balnave said. 

Balnave’s second and third Gold Key pieces are also a part of the collection. The second one, Bittersweet, is the duality of sweet and sour. Balnave explained what the inspiration behind her third piece was.  

“[All Natural is] the duality of artificial and natural, so on one side it was robotic, a lot of wires, a lot of things that are man-made, artificial. They aren’t naturally grown outside. The other side, it was more organic, lots of plants,” she said. 

Balnave’s final Gold Key winning piece was not part of the duality collection. Chronophobia: Why Does it Never Stop? focuses on the fear of time. 

“The [fourth] was Chronophobia, and that is a piece for my new portfolio that I’m doing on phobias. That one was the fear of time, so there are a bunch of clocks everywhere. A lot of people fear what’s going to happen in the future and get really scared and anxious as time goes by, so each clock has a different time on it as time continuously goes on,” Balnave said. 

Each of the award-winning pieces shares a common medium, which happens to be Balnave’s favorite to use. 

“All of them incorporate colored pencils, but Bittersweet includes acrylic paints and alcohol markers, so that one is mixed media. . . . colored pencils are my favorite medium,” Balnave said.


With four Gold Keys, Balnave explained her reaction to hearing about her awards. 

“I first didn’t hear about the gold keys. . . . I heard the two honorable mentions, but I wasn’t in the room when they told the [Gold Key] awards. . . I got honorable mentions last year, so I was like ‘that’s fine.’ Then my friend texted me and was like ‘you got four gold keys.’ I was just sitting there, covering my mouth. I couldn’t believe it,” Balnave said. 

Although Balnave does not plan on attending art school, she plans to continue pursuing her passion. 

“I’m planning on attending Cedarville University. I’m probably minoring in art and majoring in criminal justice, but I’m still going to be doing art there because that’s a very big passion of mine,” Balnave said. 

Balnave also won two Scholastic Honorable Mention awards for her pieces Illusions of the Mind’s Eye and Trypophobia: It Eats Me Away. . . .. 

Margaret Berrodin, Senior

Margaret Berrodin won an individual Gold Key, a Gold Key for her portfolio, an American Vision award and was featured as the cover art for the Scholastic Award Ceremony. 

Berrodin’s individual Gold Key winning piece was titled The Pit and is a self-portrait painting. Although this piece won an individual award, it was also a part of Berrodin’s portfolio, titled Entanglement. This piece, along with her winning portfolio, is part of a new collection for her AP art class.

The Pit

“The individual piece was called The Pit. What I’m doing for my sustained investigation, which is the topic/theme for AP Art, is paying homage to people. It started off just doing portraits because that’s what I enjoy, but it’s developed into how I can use what I call glitches to intermingle the person with the background,” Berrodin said. 

Berrodin’s glitches were not the only artistic choice she made. Berrodin further explained how she built emotion in her piece The Pit. 

“I kept the image background dark, my face: serious, kind of sad. It’s just to explain how I can feel sometimes, losing yourself into the background essentially, becoming something other than human. . . just questioning what’s even happening. That’s why the glitches are there. As a viewer, you look at it as what is that and that’s kind of how you can feel emotion-wise as well,” Berrodin said. 

Although the glitches break up the scene, they simultaneously highlight the entanglement and unite the portfolio. 

“The Pit [dealt] with entanglement with yourself. I was curled up into a ball, entangled into the glitches as well. . . The so-called glitches are parts of the image pasted on top of it to disrupt the scene,” 

Berrodin further explained the impact of her glitches and her choice to focus on entanglement, both physically and mentally. 

“The portfolio, they all have the glitches, but the title of the portfolio was called Entanglement. Basically, Entanglement had to do with the big dancer [painting]; the dancers are on top of each other, physically on top of each other, but the glitches are kind of separating them from each other. You can see that with each person; they’re looking in a different direction, which separates them from each other in a way,” Berrodin said. 

This theme continued into her American Vision and Scholastic cover art-winning piece, Mr. Fry’s Room, a piece featuring Berrodin in RHS social studies teacher Jeff Fry’s room. 

“The entanglement of me in the classroom, the Mr. Fry’s room, that was how I feel or can feel in the school environment. [You’re] losing yourself, becoming a student in a classroom, not being an individual, just sitting there and listening to someone talk. That’s pretty relatable to anyone; you’re just kind of a piece of the room. They all have the entanglement, the glitches separate them from each other,” Berrodin said.

Winning the American Vision Award is no small feat. Berrodin further explained what the award was and how she found out she won. 

“It was announced at the award ceremony, so I found out that day. This year they did it differently than normal; they called it American Vision Award Nominees. There are five per region, and it’s basically the best of show for that region. It [also] was the cover art [for] the program. I was baffled,” she said. 

Berrodin has long, meaningful explanations behind each piece. Although helpful, Berrodin does not see her detailed backstories as purely good. 

“It’s a win and a loss in ways. I do have this backstory which I think gives it more inherently. Even if no one knows the backstory, the passion is obviously there, but then there are those chances where no one cares, they don’t know,” she said. 

Berrodin plans on continuing her passion for art throughout college and her future career. 

“I’m going to go to art school for four years and get my bachelor’s degree in fine arts. After that, depending on where I’m at, [I’ll] go to another school to get my master’s degree in education and become an art teacher,” Berrodin said. 

In total, Berrodin won one individual Gold Key, a Gold Key Portfolio, the American Vision Award, two Silver Keys, twelve honorable mentions and was featured as the cover art for the regional award ceremony. 

Nicole Coveney, Senior 

Nicole Coveney won two Scholastic Honorable Mention awards, a Silver Key award and most notably, a Gold Key for her piece Chapped Lips.

The multi-award-winning piece actually stemmed from an impromptu picture. Coveney explained how she began her piece. 

“Honestly, the picture I took for it was just a quick picture I took in one of the band rooms, just trying to get good lighting. I literally took it and submitted it right after or else I would have lost points because I didn’t turn something in on time. It was honestly just a spur-of-the-moment picture I took,” Coveney said.

Chapped Lips

Coveney used a medium called monotype, a category Revere has earned a reputation for in the local art community. Coveney explained the process of monotyping. 

“What I do is paint with black watercolor on a piece of plexiglass and after I’m done doing all of that, I let it dry for a bit. We soak this giant piece of paper in water, and then we have this printing machine which presses the glass and the paper onto each other and prints whatever’s on the glass onto the paper. Right now, it’s what I do the most and the best,” she said. 

This was not the first major award Coveny’s piece has won, she explained. 

“It’s a piece that has won awards before. It was one of two pieces that got in the Ohio Governor’s Show last year from Revere, so it’s won me a lot of awards,” Coveney said.

The Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition is a state-wide art competition hosted by the Ohio Department of Education. Coveney explained how it compares to Scholastic’s. 

“[The Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition] is basically Scholastic’s for the Ohio Region, and according to [Revere Art Teacher] Mr. Pierson, it’s a lot harder to get into because scholastics has regions in Ohio; the Ohio Governor’s show is the entire state of Ohio,” she said. 

Although the piece somewhat happened by chance, Coveney is very grateful she made it. 

“It just kind of happened, [but] I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was rough doing it because on the actual piece, I’m wearing a ruffled shirt and doing the ruffles was hard to do, but it was worth it,” Coveney said. 

Coveney thanks art teacher Robert Pierson for his influence. 

“I’m really grateful to Mr. Pierson for teaching me this monotype. I had no clue what a monotype was before. There are not many monotypes. I think Revere’s the only school that does it. In the actual show, all the printmaking awards were [given to] Revere schools. Revere’s known as the monotype school,” Coneney said. 

Coveney also earned a Silver Key for her piece Finishing Touch and Honorable Mentions for her pieces Just Beet It and Reaching. 

Coveney plans on attending the School of Visual Arts with an emphasis on animation. 


Lauren DomDera, Junior

Lauren DomDera won a Gold Key for her piece Boredom. 

Similar to some of the other winning pieces, DomDera made hers to fulfill an art class assignment, not thinking much of the work. 

“It was a crosshatching. It was a self-portrait. It was [based on] a selfie, and it wasn’t much that I thought was special. It was just a regular pose. It was just for the assignment we were doing,” DomDera said. 

This particular assignment for DomDera’s drawing class with Pierson was assigned conveniently just before winter break, giving students ample time to work on it.


“He assigned it right before break, and I brought it home because I had nothing else to do over break and finished it over break. [Mr. Pierson] asked if I wanted to submit it to the Scholastics, and it was the last day to submit anything, so I was like, ‘sure,’ and then I forgot about it until he said ‘you won’,” DomDera said.  

Although she thought it looked cool, DomDera never thought this piece would be anything special. 

“It was literally just an assignment. I’ve always liked drawing and wanted to do good on it. I knew it would look cool when it was finished, and I just knew it would be fun,” DomDera said. 

DomDera’s winning piece was done through cross-hatching, a style taught in Revere’s art classes. DomDera explained what crosshatch is like. 

“[It’s similar to] the kind of art where you do a bunch of little dots and then change them to make a shadow; it’s like that, but with little lines. You have to cross over and it makes it darker,” she said. 

Although DomDera thought the process was fun, the process of sketching lines over and over again can be tedious. 

“It was just with a pen; just a million little lines and more lines and dark spots… lighter ones,” DomDera said. 

The frustrating process paid off. 

When Mr. Pierson announced the Scholastics winners, DomDera was not paying attention. 

“It was so funny. He was explaining the Scholastics to the whole class, and I was working and I had my AirPods in. He was like, ‘someone in this class won a Scholastic award,’ and he held up mine. I was still not paying attention and still drawing. I saw him looking at me, and I looked up and was like  ‘oh, that’s mine’,” DomDera said. 

Only a junior, DomDera is not sure what her plans are after high school. She hadn’t considered studying art until taking her drawing class this year. 

“I didn’t really think about it until this class and when I won. I like art, but everyone likes art. Who says they don’t? I’m thinking about it a little bit now,” DomDera said. 


Julia Earley, Sophomore

Although only a sophomore, Julia Earley won a Gold Key for her self-portrait, the highest regional honor for the one and only piece she submitted. 

Self Portrait

With constant struggles with the chosen medium, Earley was not confident in her work. She described what her winning piece was and the process of making it.

“It was just a printmaking piece. We used watercolor paint on a piece of plexiglass. I hated it, honestly. It kept beading up, and it was not my favorite medium. And I honestly thought it wasn’t very good, but Mr. Pierson told me to submit it because he thought it was one of the best ones in the class, so I did. I didn’t think anything would happen, but I won,” Earley said. 

Even more to Earley’s surprise of being chosen, Revere’s entries in the Scholastic competition are usually given to seniors, as they are pricey, so Earley had not even considered the possibility of being entered, let alone winning the highest honor. 

“He said he normally doesn’t have people that aren’t seniors enter anything because it costs money for the school to submit things, but he submitted mine anyway,” Earley said. 

Earley was once again surprised to hear her piece had won.

“When he [Mr. Pierson] announced it in front of the whole class, I had my earbuds in, but I took them out right before he said it. I was just like, ‘really? Really? Why? I didn’t think it was good enough to win anything,” Earley said.

Although only a sophomore, Earley plans to continue her passion for art into her career. 

“I want to do something creative. I like to travel, so working for National Geographic is a huge goal. [I want] something where I can do photography and travel around,” Earley said. 


Gabriela Gonzalez, Senior

Gabriela Gonzalez won a Gold Key for her piece Bears & Bunny.

Bears and Bunny

This piece is part of a series featuring antique children’s toys in an eerie light. For a contrast and to continue with the spooky theme, Gonzalez chose her medium carefully. 

“It was made with colored pencils on a black matte board… Colored pencils [are my favorite medium] for sure. I’ve used them since I was a small child and am very comfortable with them,” Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez sees the award as a good reward for the effort she put into the piece. 

“I was happy but not very surprised [to have won a Gold Key]. I knew with the amount of time and effort I put into the piece that it would get recognized,” Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez also won a Silver Key for her piece Mary Had a Little Lamb and an Honorable Mention for her drawing Broken Doll.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Gonzalez explained what inspired her to make the piece Mary Had a Little Lamb.

“I was heavily inspired by the doll itself. I loved that it was vintage and wanted to incorporate it somehow into my art,” she said. 

Gonzalez plans to take a gap year next year to figure out her plans for the future. Although she doesn’t see studying art in her future, she plans to continue it as a hobby. 


Lilly Kayani, Senior 

Lilly Kayani won a Gold Key for her six-piece portfolio featuring different animals. 

With most of the drawings completed over the course of the previous school year for her AP art class, Kayani picked a topic she enjoyed that could easily form a collection. 

“I did the relationship between humans and animals. I talked a lot about how animals are either used for entertainment or affection. I needed to put six works together and I had four, so I looked at it and went, ‘I can make another two’,” Kayani said. 

All of Kayani’s portfolio was done in a realistic style using her favorite medium. Each drawing was done based on a picture Kayani either took herself or asked her friends to take with their animals.

Part of Kayani’s portfolio, Domesticated

“They’re all colored pencil. All of them are renderings. Most of them are pretty similar, doing basic shadows and highlights, building up colors,” Kayani said. 

The time each piece took greatly varied, with a realistic lizard that lives at a local restaurant taking the longest. 

“My biggest piece took me very long, maybe two months. In the last week [of working on it], I worked probably 6-8 hours on it every day. . . It was an iguana from Winking Lizard. It was the biggest piece I’ve ever done, and now I’m doing one that’s twice the size, ” Kayani said.

Part of Kayani’s portfolio, Domesticated

Despite her time and effort in creating the portfolio, Kayani was surprised to hear she had received the highest honor. 

“I was very surprised. I didn’t think I’d get anything. I was also very happy with my whole portfolio. I [didn’t] have something in mind until the end. A lot of the stuff in AP is painting, and I don’t paint. I think mine was the only one that was rendered fully. Everything was either painting, oil, or mixed media,” Kayani said. 

Kayani also won two honorable mentions for her pieces Mr. Socks and Winking Iguana. 

Kayani plans on studying architecture after she graduates high school.