MARCELLUS — In her 26 years in education, Marcellus Central School District Superintendent Michelle Brantner said, she has always been in awe of student art.

Most recently, she was particularly blown away by Marcellus students' artwork, so she was thrilled to ask High School Principal John Durkee to introduce a presentation to the school board regarding the students involved in this year's Scholastic Art Awards.

During Monday's meeting, Durkee introduced the art teachers involved in the projects: Tara Charles, Donna DeMonte and Nate Caza. Charles gave a slideshow presentation for the board and its standing-room-only audience that included each student award winner and their work as well as information about the awards.

There are three levels of awards: Honorable Mention, Silver Key and Gold Key. According to Scholastic's website, these awards have fostered creativity in students from seventh grade through high school since 1923. There are 29 art and writing categories. Work is judged regionally, and then, Gold Key winners compete nationally to win scholarships.

“It is the top one percent that compete nationally,” Charles said.

Students can submit individual pieces of work or portfolios of up to eight pieces.

“We get to see the end result of the work,” Charles said of the work that was on display in the Learning Center where the board. “Us teachers have the privilege of watching that process.”

She added that there is an incredible amount of hours that is put into this work outside of the regular classroom that is often balanced with sports, a job and other homework.

National alumni of these awards include artist Andy Warhol; writers Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote and Joyce Carol Oates; photographer Richard Avedon; actors Frances Farmer, Robert Redford, Alan Arkin, Lena Dunham, and John Lithgow; fashion designer Zac Posen; and filmmakers Ken Burns and Richard Linklater.


• Board President Ryan Riefler recognized the Discover Your Talent Day that took place at K.C. Heffernan Elementery School over the previous weekend.

It involved 215 students, 62 parents and 36 instructors. The day featured introduction to skills and careers that students could check out for their future work or even as hobbies. It included woodworking, soap making, the fire department, gymnastics, Zumba, dance, computer programming and art.

“Once again, another volunteer organized effort here in Marcellus,” Riefler said.

• After a lengthy discussion, the board voted for school to be open for a half day of classes on Good Friday, April 14 to make up for an extra snow day taken because of Winter Storm Stella. Board members David Locastro and John Fuller both voted against the measure.

• Former Heffernan Principal Gary Basillion is now working in the district as a special projects manager. He is currently directing the packing and purging of the buildings to get ready for the June start of construction.

• Mike Reagan and Joe Campbell, of the Reagan Companies insurance agency, presented the board with the district's eighth-consecutive Utica National School Safety Excellence Award.

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Journal reporter Ellen Leahy can be reached at ellen.leahy@lee.net or (315) 282-2230. Follow her on Twitter @WOC_Leahy.