OCSA students win Scholastic Art and Writing national medals

Every year, the nation’s longest running program Scholastic Art and Writing Awards recognized exceptionally talented teens in grades 7-12. Over 300,000 pieces of art and writing were submitted in 28 categories, including photography, painting, fashion, short story, poetry, novel, screenwriting, memoir, flash fiction, and more.

The Orange County School of the Arts had multiple students that placed in the Scholastic Regional Writing Awards:

Catherine Fleet – 1 Honorable Mention
Nicole McLendon – 1 Silver Key
Serena Baik – 1 Silver Key and 1 Honorable Mention
Justin Johnson – 1 Gold Key
Alex Chasteen – 1 Gold Key and 1 Silver Key
Xochitl Luna – 2 Gold Keys, 1 Silver Key, and 1 Honorable Mention
Alexandra Aste – 3 Gold Keys, 4 Silver Keys, and 1 Honorable Mention
Cassandra Hsiao – 3 Gold Keys, 4 Silver Keys, and 3 Honorable Mentions


Those who receive a Gold Key advance to the national level, where earning a National Medal places students in the top 1% of submissions. Alumni who have won Scholastic awards include Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, Lena Dunham, Philip Pearlstein.

Joining the ranks of the notable alumni this year include over 1900 teens from across the country and American schools abroad who received national recognition. A complete list of winners is available here.

Three students from OCSA won a Gold Medal in the national level: 9th grader Xochitl Luna, 10th grader Cassandra Hsiao, and 11th grader Alex Chasteen. They will have a chance to attend the National Celebration in New York, where the Alliance will honor their work in Carnegie Hall on June 11.

Alex Chasteen

Click here for her winning poetry : Romantics

This year was Chasteen’s first time entering the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is often inspired by detail in both fiction and real life.

“It really jolts me into writing,” she said. “Whenever I need to force myself to write, I work through details. It’s my way of trying to craft a little corner of the world no one’s assembled before.”

These are poems that were nationally recognized for their skill, originality, and voice.

Estival Love  by Cassandra Hsiao

you are my Sunset Friday.
the day our bridges collided and we discovered each other’s existence
i remember the hum of heat
and children splashing in the waves.
you asked me my favorite season
i said all of them
and you said summer.
we were silhouettes against red orange skies when
i whispered, i’ve never watched the Brady Bunch
so you decided that our First Date
would be in your living room
with our feet propped up
on the coffee table from Pottery Barn.
a single light bulb dangles from
the ceiling in your room, illuminating
the pirouetting shadows in the corners.
you come from the porches and backyards lining
43rd street and the abandoned parking lot
where sometimes music from your guitar spirals
into the night summer sky, like sweet smoke sailing from
the red chimney of Courante’s Bakery. i’ve watched
you grip cold, wrinkled hands, and ask
their owners the story behind each crease on their palm.
you wrote the lyrics to my name during a 104 degree fever.
you teach me vernacular that you conjure
by picking letters like pinpointing stars
and stringing them into a Constellation.
you use the Ace of Hearts as a bookmark.
in our minds we built a tree house
based on Greek architecture that carved itself
into the Corinthian wooden columns bestowed with lavish ornaments.
but we both insisted on more books, more shelves,
and our imaginations braved the metamorphosis
and when we walked inside our newly built antique book shop
we did not experience the wistful fog
that usually settles upon our crowns
when we smell the aroma of a million coffee-stained pages.
it was because we thought
we had Time to read every single one.
but the leaves started to turn red.
Yesterday you left me on a platform island
and as the train passed by,
i caught dimly lit snapshots of you
on the other side between the gaps.
your form flickered in the separation of subway cars.
i grasped at the echoes of your breathlessness
my fingers tangled with your adjectives
as you whispered, you are my Summer.

Xochitl Luna  A Tale of Teacup

I sit among the dunes of dust
The folds and petticoats of my rosy dress
Shivering, as roaches and beetles
Skitter past.
I am the prettiest cup
That sits on this deserted shelf.
The only one who adorns herself
With pink roses the color of a baby’s lips.
The only one made of pale porcelain,
That is all the more lovely
Because it can break.
Swimming in a sea of cheap plastic vessels,
I simply wait For someone to fill me up,
Give me meaning.
For what is a beautiful cup,
If she has nothing to fill her?

Light breaks through
As the cupboard door opens,
A dozen sunrises
Coated in the gossamer of fresh air.
He slides a gruff finger through my handle,
Like two arms, linked in a wonderful waltz.
A warmth spreads to my toes,
Everything sets on fire,
As he fills me with tea
That smells of sharp peppermint.
My tongue probes the air,
Sweet as honey.
This kitchen is home—
Home, where the smell of sweet tea,
Fills all corners of the room,
Where white tiles shine bright
Against pumpkin-orange walls.

The icy fear webs through me
As he begins to drink.
I cannot feel my toes.
Cold spiders crawl over my skin.
I cannot feel my legs.
And as I freeze,
He begins to warm,
Smiling brighter than the sun.
I love to see him happy,
And yet a part of me,
a selfish part
Wants to stay warm and full,
With the fuzzy blanket of love
Draped over my heart.
I cannot feel my heart now.
Everything tastes of the color gray
And ashes.

His grip loosens,
Sausage fingers gliding down my sides.
He is gone,
And I am a ship at open sea with no anchor.
The world whizzes up,
Up, like I am flying.
And yet I know
I am falling.
Passing me by
On my terrifying descent.
Everything stands
On the brink of collapse.

And the world breaks
Into a million fragments of glass
as I shatter.
I can never return
To the dunes of dust.
I am broken.
Completely, and utterly,

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