District 99 Students Earn Scholastic Art & Writing 2024 Suburban Chicago Regional Awards

District 99 Students Earn Scholastic Art & Writing 2024 Suburban Chicago Regional Awards

Students from Downers Grove South and Downers Grove North High School earned accolades as part of the 2024 Scholastic Art and Writing Suburban Chicago Regional Art Awards. This year, more than a thousand students at over 40 schools participated in the program. 

District 99 artists won a total of 145 awards, including 26 Gold Key Awards, 27 Silver Key Awards and 62 Honorable Mention Awards. Downers Grove North senior Jenna Soelberg was honored with the prestigious American Vision Nominee recognition - a “Best in Show” award given to only five artworks out of all entries. Jenna’s work will automatically continue to national-level American Vision Award adjudication.

The list of award winners by school and category are listed below:


Downers Grove North High School


Gold Key Award

Cara Fleming - “Scoubidou” (Mixed Media) 

Emily Kus - “Interconnected” (Sculpture) 

Emily Kus - “Searching for You” (Jewelry) 

Ella Leathers - “Natural Color” (Photography) 

Ella Leathers - “Untitled” (Photography) 

Ella Leathers - “Untitled” (Photography)

Ugne Maizesius - “Hey; Honey” (Sculpture) 

Bailey Mongello - “Regression” (Ceramics & Glass) 

Amelia Passero - “Is It Painful” (Jewelry)

Amelia Passero - “Opposing Standards” (Sculpture) 

Amelia Passero - “The Puppeteer” (Jewelry) 

Sarah Paul - “Date Night” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Sarah Paul - “Squirrel” (Drawing & Illustration)

Jenna Soelberg - “Twin Flame” (Ceramics & Glass) 

Tyler Staken - “AMBIDEXTROUS INSANITY” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Nellie Quinn - “Am I dying?” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Abby Quirk - “Heartache” (Jewelry) 


Silver Key Award

Maria Amas - “Lipids Frost” (Jewelry)

Timmy Fleming - “Tranquility” (Jewelry)

Olivia Graves - “Eat Your Vegetables” (Ceramics & Glass)

Kate Houlahan - “Time to Eat” (Mixed Media)

Emily Kus - “You Still Dance In My Mind” (Jewelry) 

Maura MacDonald - “The City” (Digital Art)

Maura MacDonald - “The Rage Knight” (Drawing & Illustration)

Ugne Maizesius - “Pascal” (Jewelry)

Bailey Mongello - “The Music Box” (Mixed Media) 

Amelia Passero - “Cupid’s Faulty Arrow” (Jewelry) 

Azrael Robinson - “Meet the OC Compilation” (Design) 

Elise Sadler - “Growth” (Sculpture)

Elise Sadler - “Symphony” (Jewelry)

Tyler Staken - “THE NEGATIVE SPACE” (Drawing & Illustration)

Tyler Staken - “SMUDGE STATION” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Tyler Staken - “JUNKYARD X” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Nellie Quinn - “The Noise” (Drawing & Illustration)

Abby Quirk - “Imprisoned” (Sculpture) 


Honorable Mention

Furyaal Ahmad - “Emergence” (Jewelry)

Sophia Allen - “Self Portrait” (Painting)

Peter Bowe - “Scorched Soldier” (Digital Art)

Madeline Cremer - “Freedom of Religion” (Ceramics & Glass)

Henry Eide - “Honey” (Ceramics & Glass)

Stormy Fleener - “Words Bubble Up” (Digital Art)

Cara Fleming - “Kaleidoscope 3x3” (Digital Art) 

Cara Fleming - “Watercolored Bubbles” (Photography)

Olivia Graves - “Little Life on a Log” (Ceramics & Glass) 

Isabella Guzman - “Refugee” (Sculpture)

Esther Izrailov - “Aztec Dinnerware Set” (Ceramics & Glass) 

Emily Kus - “Space in Nature” (Jewelry)

Joli Lemus - “Breathe Easy” (Ceramics & Glass)

Kate Miller - “oops” (Photography)

Donal O’Driscoll - “Searching Space” (Sculpture)

Sophia Oestemeyer - “Seasons Change” (Photography)

Amelia Passero - “Another Perspective” (Jewelry)

Amelia Passero - “Be It A Blessing Or Curse?” (Jewelry) 

Bryce Paris - “Concentration” (Photography

Bryce Paris - “Self Perspective” (Photography)

Sarah Paul - “Consumer” (Painting)

Sarah Paul - “Emptied” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Sarah Paul - “Harvest” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Sarah Paul - “Ritter” (Drawing & Illustration)

Sarah Paul - “Tabaski” (Painting)

Sarah Paul - “The Minstrel” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Sarah Paul - “Vision of Man” (Mixed Media) 

Azrael Robinson - “Diet Coke” (Editorial Cartoon) 

Elise Sadler - “Nature’s Essence” (Jewelry)

Jo Dee Schmidt - “Tangled Love” (Painting) 

Jo Dee Schmidt - “Tunnel of Light” (Photography) 

Imogen Schmitz - “Kulqui Valley Bridal Suite” (Jewelry) 

Imogen Schmitz - “The Swamp” (Sculpture) 

Imogen Schmitz - “Tirxi Earrings” (Jewelry)

Nathan Sisco - “Timeless” (Jewelry) 

Cesar Rivero Figueroa - “Poor Man’s Sunset” (Photography)

Cesar Rivero Figueroa - “Untitled (Bacteria)” (Photography)

Tyler Staken - “self-portrait” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Tyler Staken - “Planet smudge” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Tyler Staken - “ELEPHANT FIGHTS EXCAVATOR” (Drawing & Illustration) 

Luke Williams - “Adventure THrough My Mind Pt. 2” (Ceramics & Glass)

Nellie Quinn - “Gaze” (Drawing & Illustration) 


Portfolio Awards

Alexander Drozdov

Cara Fleming

Henry Gwozdz

Emily Kus

Amelia Passero

Sarah Paul

Imogen Schmitz

Tyler Staken


Downers Grove South High School


Gold Key

Meida Kuzminskas - “Does hard work pay off, or did I do something wrong?” (Mixed Media)

Sophia Lodhi - “Suffocation” (Photography)

Lukas Meliukstis - “Swag” (Photography)

Alexi Newsome - “New Home” (Mixed Media)

Alexi Newsome - “I Spy With My Little Eye A Lot of Debt” (Drawing & Illustration)

Camille Pagaduan - “Adventure in the Bathroom” (Digital Art)

Carter Reed - “Flower” (Photography)

Daria Samosadnaia - “Dar” (Ceramics & Glass)

Miranda Szwed - “On Point” (Photography)


Silver Key

Vanja Bogdanovic - “Through the Light” (Photography)

Kayden Christ - “Get In Line” (Photography)

Jordan Hymon Barrett - “Champion” (Photography)

Ava Kane - “Framed”-  (Photography)

Maya Kolakowski - “Mother” (Ceramics & Glass)

Camille Pagaduan - “Hidden Stories” (Digital Art)

Maddie Piotrowski - “In The Couch Cushions” (Ceramics & Glass)

Silvana Sypien - “Fancy”  (Photography)

Hannah Tolomeo - “An Ignorant Home” (Digital Art)


Honorable Mention

Grey Balich - “Black Ice” (Photography)

Makinley Billiot - “Distanced Heart” (Photography)

Derek Carlson Jr - “Watch Tower” (Ceramics & Glass)

Alyssa Hernandez - “Hidden Beauty” (Photography)

Gavin Hunt - “Collecting Dust” (Photography)

Annie Koshy - “Chip the Clip” (Drawing & Illustration)

Adela Kowalski - “Nothing and Everything” (Jewelry)

Adela Kowalski - “Shark” (Jewelry)

Catherine Liceaga - “Pop of Color” (Photography)

Sophia Lodhi - “Broken Chances” (Photography)

Tsegereda Melkie - “Lost” (Photography)

Vedanshi Patel - “Asian Architecture” (Ceramics & Glass)

Estee Raceala - “The Hunted” (Photography)

Fence Rodi - “Me, Myself and I” (Drawing & Illustration)

Fence Rodi - “Robin’s Study” (Drawing & Illustration)

Caitlin Spindler - “Lungs” (Ceramics & Glass)

Miranda Szwed - “Too Close” (Photography)

Hannah Tolomeo - “Blinded Worship” (Digital Art)

Hannah Tolomeo - “Sun and Moon” (Digital Art)

Milo Wiggins - “La présentation est un élément clé” (Drawing & Illustration)


In total, 1,903 entries were adjudicated across seventeen media categories. Of those, approximately 7% of works received Gold Key awards and continue to the National Adjudication. Another 10% of works receive Silver Key recognition; the next 10% earn Honorable Mention Awards.

The show reception was hosted at North High on Sunday, January 28th, and featured an awards ceremony honoring all award winners. 

For more information on the Fine Arts program at Downers Grove South, contact Department Chair Jerry Lowrey. For more information on the Fine Arts program at Downers Grove North, contact Department Chair Gina Wych.