Celebrating Creative Excellence: HCDE’s Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Shine Light on Harris County Teens

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 5/16/2024, 11:45 a.m.
The stage was set, the anticipation palpable, as the University of Houston's Cullen Performance Hall played host to a dazzling …
Assistant Superintendent of Education and Enrichment Dr. CJ Rodgers, left, and Center for Educator Success Senior Director Andre


The stage was set, the anticipation palpable, as the University of Houston's Cullen Performance Hall played host to a dazzling celebration of artistic brilliance during the 2024 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards regional receptions. Sponsored by the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE), this prestigious event honored the creative endeavors of hundreds of teen artists across greater Houston and their dedicated mentors. Let's delve into the colorful tapestry of talent that illuminated these two extraordinary nights.

photo  Teen artists were honored for their creative work this week at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards regional receptions.

A Glittering Affair:

For two consecutive nights, the Cullen Performance Hall buzzed with excitement as Gold Key winners basked in the limelight on May 7-8, while Silver Key achievers were feted through a livestream of the event. Elisa Barry, an esteemed art teacher at Spring Branch ISD’s Memorial High School, aptly described the event as the "Academy Awards for art," capturing the essence of its significance in the hearts of young artists. The atmosphere was electric, as students, parents, and educators from across the region converged to celebrate creativity in its myriad forms.

Inspiring the Next Generation:

Ferry Fang, a sophomore from Cypress-Fairbanks ISD’s Bridgeland High School and an American Voices National Medalist, epitomized the spirit of artistic expression. Reflecting on the impact of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Fang expressed a desire to connect with viewers on a profound level, allowing them a glimpse into the depths of his artistic psyche. His sentiments were echoed by Brad Conklin, Fang's mentor, who emphasized the transformative power of this platform in nurturing young artists and amplifying their voices.

A Showcase of Talent:

The artistic diversity on display was nothing short of breathtaking, with nearly 16,000 submissions from the region vying for recognition. HCDE's commitment to fostering creative excellence was evident in the 3,800 honors bestowed, ranging from Gold Key and Silver Key accolades to Honorable Mentions. Notably, works receiving Gold Key distinction at the regional level were propelled onto the national stage, a testament to the caliber of talent nurtured within Harris County.

Embracing Cultural Richness:

As the ceremonies unfolded, guests were treated to an array of captivating performances and inspiring speeches by esteemed personalities such as actress and writer Crystal Rae, poet and writer Camari Carter Hawkins, and multimedia artist Douglas James Jr. Their presence served as a source of motivation and empowerment for budding artists, reaffirming the profound impact of artistic expression on shaping society's narrative.

A Legacy of Creativity:

As the curtains draw to a close on this spectacular event, the legacy of creativity forged by HCDE's Scholastic Art & Writing Awards continues to resonate. The artworks and written pieces by national and regional winners will remain on display, offering a glimpse into the boundless imagination and artistic ingenuity of Harris County's youth. For students like Ferry Fang, this recognition serves not only as validation of their artistic journey but also as a catalyst for future endeavors, igniting a passion for lifelong learning and creative exploration.


In the hallowed halls of the Cullen Performance Hall, dreams took flight, and aspirations found expression, as Harris County's young artists showcased their talents on a grand stage. Through the unwavering support of HCDE and the collective efforts of mentors, parents, and educators, these teens stand poised to leave an indelible mark on the world, one brushstroke at a time. As we bid adieu to another enchanting chapter in the annals of artistic excellence, let us celebrate the boundless potential of the human spirit and the transformative power of creativity in shaping a brighter tomorrow.

For more info, visit blog.hcde-texas.org