2017 Ceremony Recap

Thanks, Arizona, for making a “Différance”

Young Authors of Arizona (YAA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit and Arizona’s Scholastic Art & Writing Awards affiliate, thanks volunteers and attendees for making our 2017 Arizona Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Ceremony on April 29th a special event. Thanks, Arizona, for the memories, and here’s a preview for the 29th.

Ceremony welcome

Lobby doors open at 5:30 pm and Auditorium doors open at 6:00, planned ceremony start at 6:30. Entering through the east parking lot entrance of Desert Mountain High School (DMHS), 12575 E Vía Linda, Scottsdale, AZ 85259, attendees will first check in at the registration table.

Each honoree will receive his or her envelope with certificates, two teacher pins, any Gold Key or Silver Key pins, and an invitation to the YAA-Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) Author Camp and organizational planning retreat June 26th – 29th. Attendees may hang out in the lobby and once the Auditorium doors open at 6:00, they’re welcome to find their seats.

For ceremony seating, it’ll be first come, first seated with a request that all grade 7-12 honorees sit together in the front rows.

Ceremony overview

With curtain drawn at the DMHS auditorium in Scottsdale, at approximately 6:30 pm YAA Board Member, DMHS English Teacher, and Scottsdale Community College English Composition Professor Kevin Sheh will welcome the crowd and introduce DMHS’s Grace Gay, YAA’s 2016-2017 YAA Student Committee leader.

Last year, Grace performed a dramatic reading of schoolmate Allison Boyce’s 2016 Scholastic Writing Awards Gold Medal personal narrative, Anthem for the Single Teenager, delivering poignant passages like this:

When you listen to all the songs about heartbeats going wild, wonder if what they say could ever be true.  Wonder if there really is someone out there who will help you carry your load of sadness and joy so that you can help carry theirs.  Wonder if someday your tiny blip of an existence will mean the world to someone else.

This year, Grace will pass the mike to BASIS Scottsdale’s Kimy Lecamwasam, 2017 Scholastic Writing Awards Writing Portfolio Gold Key (Arizona) and Silver Medal (National) honoree. Also an emerging singer-songwriter that “grew up on Bob Dylan,” Kimy will perform, “Calling Out My Name.” Kimy may get a special music partner, Paul Avram, to co-perform.

Thereafter, Grace will share the history of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, highlighted by a video-recorded congratulations from acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns, himself a 1974 Scholastic Writing Awards honoree.

With families and friends smiling, Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) English Composition Professor and YAA Best Arizona Teen Writing book critical essay section editor Dr. David Pegram will read names to honor approximately “Young Authors of Arizona,” grade 7-12 artists and writers, stepped onstage to receive their 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Honorable Mention, Silver Key, Gold Key, Silver Medal, Gold Medal, American Visions, and American Voices certificates.

YAA will then present a special slideshow recognizing Arizona’s combined national medal-winning art and writing pieces, American Visions nominees, and American Voices nominees. Congratulations also to YAA authors that won multiple national medals, notably University High School’s Alexandra Karaim in Tucson (three medals).

The keynote speaker, acclaimed YA author Suzanne Young, will deliver a speech on the ceremony theme of “Differance.”

As Speak eAZy: Best Arizona Teen Writing of 2017 Student Editor, Gerchick is pleased to unveil the book concept.   Grace, who helped choose North High School senior Michael Carraaco’s drawing and illustration Silver Key work “Blame it on the Alcohol” for the cover art, will describe how Carraaco’s piece helps capture the book’s ethos. She’ll also highlight excerpts from some of the book’s written works. It’s notable that book authors will be notified of publication selections by mid-May and that the book itself will be published by the end of June.

YAA President, Metro Tech High School English Teacher, and Phoenix College English Composition Professor Billy Gerchick will then share YAA’s 2016-2017 year-in-review and make a call for increased organizational involvement, focused on the June 26-29th organizational retreat in Phoenix at PVCC in conjunction with Author Camp.

Grace Gay then will close the ceremony, welcoming our young authors (artists and writers) to get involved in YAA’s 2017-2018 campaign, starting by signing up for the June planning retreat.


From 7:30 – 8:30, honorees and their families, mentors, supporters, and friends enjoyed the evening’s reception in the school lobby, enjoying home-made tamales, light refreshments, and delicacies. Special thanks to DMHS, and other student volunteers!

Needing increased volunteer, YAA looks forward to supporting Arizona language and media arts through YAA involvement from May of 2017 – April of 2018″ towards the bottom of this page for more campaign details.

YAA also answered questions about upcoming planning, events, publications, and 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards participation. Of note, Paradise Valley Community College English’s Dr. David Pegram was on-hand to answer questions about the June 26-29 YAA-PVCC Author Camp for Fall 2017 grade 9-12 writers.

While YAA’s Speak eAZy: Best Arizona Teen Writing of 2017 won’t be available until the end of June, Shine books still available online through Amazon.com; all proceeds help YAA support Arizona language and media arts.

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