Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Local nonprofit awards high schoolers for contributions to the arts

Madeline Anderson, Kashante Mays, Siedii Courage Neufville, Kathyrn Raney, Jake Turner, Elizabeth Loyer and Wilma Davidson
Madeline Anderson, Kashante Mays, Siedii Courage Neufville, Kathyrn Raney, Jake Turner, Elizabeth Loyer and Wilma Davidson
Photo by Petra Rivera
  • Longboat Key
  • Neighbors
  • Share

The Sarasota branch of the National League of American Pen Women held its annual “Launching Leaders in the Performing Arts” luncheon on April 10 at Bird Key Yacht Club.

“This is one of the most important things we do here,“ said President Wilma Davidson. “We need to provide opportunities and encouragement to younger artists to create and feel inspired. They hold the future of art in their hands. If I had something like this, when I was younger, maybe I would’ve started earlier or gone farther.”

Starting last fall, the club members reached out to 17 high schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties to provide seniors the chance to submit their art, written pieces or musical compositions in the annual competition. Forty students entered in each category.

Students are encouraged to spend the prize money on furthering their artistic careers. Sixty-five people attended the luncheon, including the members, students and their teachers. This year, students only qualified for the art and writing categories.

Polly Curran was the art chair for the contest. The Betty Altman Awards were given to students of Jeffrey Cornwell from Booker High School. Scarlett Whisnant’s painting “Wave-bound”  received the first-place prize of the Betty Altman Award of Excellence for $2,000. Hong Nguyen’s painting “Magpie Bridge” won the second-place prize of $1,500. Lucy Eiseman’s painting “Study” won the third-place prize of $1,000. The Merit Awards for art were awarded to "Show Business, Baby” by Jackie Williams from Suncoast Polytechnic High School and “I Still Love You” by Raquel Coyle from Booker High School. 

Lu Eiseman, Jackie Williams and Raquel Coyle.
Photo by Petra Rivera

Davidson led the writing competition. Kathryn Raney of Venice High School won the first-place prize for her poem, “Not the Golden Child.” Madeline Anderson of Palmetto High School won the second-place prize for her essay, “Premature Death.” The poem “The Bar of Love and Shame,” written by Jake Turner of Pine View School, won the third-place prize. The Merit Awards were given to the essay “Heros in Disguise” by Addyson Domian of Venice High School and “For Better or Worse” by Siedii-Courafe Neufville of Southeast High School. 

Davidson said that the talent of the young artists always exceeds her expectations.

“I am always amazed reading through their submissions,” said Davidson. “They explore deep topics as a way to express themselves in ways they can’t do in regular life. We hope that being a part of our 'Launching Leaders' program will push them to continue pursuing the arts and to keep the arts alive in their lives and the world.”

Pamela Olin, Janice Newman, Miriam Cassell and Polly Curran
Photo by Petra Rivera

Along with inspiring younger artists, writers and musicians, the members find inspiration for their own art through the American Pen Women. Davidson said many members can enhance their work through the inspiration and feedback from other members. The Pen Women also provide opportunities to promote their art and connect with others nationally.

Davidson shared that through the Pen Women, she has seen many members push out of their comfort zones and create in ways they never thought they could. 

She said, “Through the Pen women, we are able to enter national competitions to push us and help us connect beyond just Sarasota while also building a strong community of women here too.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

Latest News