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Two Oswego High School Students Earn National Scholastic Awards

Thomas Mereness and Francisco Zafra received awards for their art last spring.

Oswego High School students Thomas Mereness, junior, and Francisco Zafra, senior, each received a national scholastic award for their artwork last spring.

Mereness was an American Vision Award Medalist for his work in sculpture. Zafra received a gold medal for his drawing, which will be traveling the country.

Gold medals are awarded for the most outstanding works in the nation and the American Visions and Voices medal is awarded based on an esteemed panel of jurors that select the best of the five American Voices & Visions Nominees from each region to receive national recognition with the American Visions & Voices Medal.

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, identifies teenagers with exceptional artistic and literary talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The Awards have an impressive legacy dating back to 1923 and a noteworthy roster of past winners including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Robert Redford and Joyce Carol Oates.

The Awards are an important opportunity for students to be recognized for their creative talents. Each year, the Alliance partners with more than 100 regional affiliates across the country to bring the program to local communities. Teens in grades 7 through 12 can apply in 28 categories of art and writing for the chance to earn scholarships and have their works exhibited or published.

Submissions are juried by luminaries in the visual and literary arts, some of whom are past award recipients. Notable past jurors include Francine Prose, Paul Giamatti, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Judy Blume, Paula Poundstone, Lesley Stahl and Billy Collins. Panelists look for works that best exemplify originality, technical skill and the emergence of a personal voice or vision.

Year after year the program continues to grow with increased participation from students and partners across the country. To date, the Awards have encouraged over 13 million students, recognized more than 9 million young artists and writers, and made available more than $25 million in awards and scholarships. They continue to be the longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the U.S., and the largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers.

Special thanks to OHS Fine Arts Division Chair Michael Skura for the release and photos.

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