School news

Art Awards Galore


Spring Branch ISD (SBISD) has consistently emphasized providing numerous avenues for nurturing the visual arts talents of its students. Historically, SBISD student artwork has been esteemed at the highest level both regionally and statewide, and this year proves no different.

Visual arts educators foster creativity by guiding students through challenging and innovative assignments that encourage personal interpretation and expression across mediums.

Beyond artistry, these experiences impart valuable life lessons. Annually, the district selects exemplary works to submit to the Texas Art Education Association’s VASE (Visual Art Scholastic Event) and TEAM (Texas Elementary Art Meet) competitions.

In the VASE competition, students presented their artistic endeavors. They also provide written statements showcasing their creative processes and understanding of visual art. Moreover, during interviews with VASE jurors, students shared additional insights about their work. These components contribute to jurors' assessments based on a standards-aligned rubric.

This year, SBISD presented a total of 202 entries to the 2024 High School VASE Region 4W competition. Remarkably, 144 entries garnered the highest rating of 4, thus advancing to the TAEA’s state-level contest. In late April, it was announced that 13 SBISD entries had achieved the highest rating of 4 at the state High School VASE event.

Congratulations are due to the following students (and their teachers) whose dedication and exceptional talent earned them this prestigious recognition:

Spring Woods High School

Teacher: Karen Barnett

  • Trinh Tran, for Dances with Flamingos
  • Hyunchae (Lucy) Kim, for Inside Out

Teacher: Carly Bancroft

  • Isabel Rodriguez, for Mayura

Memorial High School

Teacher: Elisa Barry

  • Maggie Lu, for Antagonist
  • Anjali Mandilwar, for Unyielding
  • Alina Du, for Patchwork Persona
  • Anjali Mandilwar, for A New Chapter

Teacher: Marilyn Guerinot

  • Clare Zhan, for Luminary

Teacher: Elizabeth Carney

  • Morgan Williams, for Hidden Voices

Stratford High School

Teacher: Rachel Goins

  • Catherine Kerns, for Fool's Gold
  • Gabriela Mirza, for Embrace

Teacher: Lane Smolen

  • Zara Weiss, for Darwin
  • Zoe Ju, for Girlhood

VASE Junior Awards

In the 2024 Junior VASE season, a staggering 13,373 works were entered into statewide competition, with 998 earned prestigious Platinum medals. Within this competitive landscape, SBISD students stood out, presenting 47 entries for JRVASE Region 4W and an impressive 11 of these entries achieved the highest rating of a 4. Among these talented students, two works from SBISD received the esteemed Platinum recognition, showcasing the exceptional creativity and skill nurtured within the district.

Congratulations to the following students whose work was recognized with a Platinum medal:

Spring Forest Middle School

Teacher: Becky Mustachio

  • Gordon Anna, for My Abstract Flowers

Memorial Middle School

Teacher: Frances Smolen

  • Anna Ji, for Finding Happiness

Prestigious Goal Seal awards

Out of all the entries from across Texas that advanced to State VASE, 165 were selected as Gold Seal entries. Jurors select artworks that represent the goals of VASE and exemplary examples of concept, technique, craftsmanship and creativity in student artwork. Students selected as Gold Seal winners receive a Gold State Medallion, and their artwork will be exhibited in a variety of venues across the state, including at the Glassell School of Art in Houston from June 3 through August 9.

The traveling show of Gold Seal winners will culminate with an exhibition at the annual TAEA Fall Conference in Galveston slated for November 14 through 16. SBISD students received six Gold Seals.

Congratulations to the following students whose work was recognized with this prestigious award:

Spring Woods High School

Teacher: Karen Barnett

  • Hyunchae (lucy) Kim, for Tip Toe

Memorial High School

Teacher: Elisa Barry

  • Kassia Tan, for The Fight I Can't Win
  • Kassia Tan, for Girlhood
  • Alina Du, for A Century of Misery and Laundry

Stratford High School

Teacher: Rachel Goins 

  • Abigail Lee, for Eyes of the Deep
  • Ester Acuna, for Rainbow Burst

Elementary Top of TEAM awards

During the 2024 TEAM season, 5,863 works were adjudicated statewide at the regional level, with only 393 being awarded Top of TEAM medals. Spring Branch ISD submitted 100 entries for TEAM Region 4W with 60 receiving the highest rating of a 4. 

SBISD students received six Top of TEAM honors, which jurors award to students whose competitions score in the top ten percent.

Congratulations to the following students whose works were recognized with Top of TEAM medals from the TAEA:

Wilchester Elementary

Teacher: Stephanie Walton 

  • Noah Chen, for Floral Necklace
  • Evie Logan, for Metal

Ridgecrest Elementary

Teacher: Amy Schmidt

  • Violet Cedillo, for Monster

Rummel Creek Elementary

Teacher: Barbara Koy

  • Emma Pierce, for Floral Frenzy 
  • Logan O'Connor, for Flutters

Pine Shadows Elementary

Teacher: Pamela Stone

  • Rios Miranda, for Stare Deeply

See a slide show of SBISD State VASE and Top of TEAM awardees’ artworks here.

Scholastic Art Gold and Silver Key Regional winners

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nation’s oldest and most esteemed recognition program for young artists, is organized in this region by the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE), the second-largest Scholastic affiliate in the nation.

At an awards ceremony held in early May, recipients of the Gold Key were celebrated at a show and ceremony hosted at the University of Houston’s Cullen Performance Hall. Meanwhile, Silver Key winners were honored through a livestream of the event.

"Scholastic for us is akin to the Academy Awards for art," remarked Elisa Barry, an art educator at Memorial High School, who was acknowledged on May 8 as the recipient of the Blick Art Award. Barry, also named the 2024 SBISD Secondary Teacher of the Year, added, "My students are incredibly motivated to participate and excel, yearning for recognition. Exposure to diverse mediums and styles through Scholastic can truly ignite their artistic inspiration."

Harris County Regional Scholastic Art Gold Key winners from Spring Branch ISD are:

Landrum Middle School
Teacher: Briana Zarea

  • Andrea Estrada Avila, for Police Woman

Spring Branch Middle School
Teacher: Angelica Christopher

  • Andrew Bell, for Vivid Beauty

Memorial High School
Teacher: Elizabeth Carney

  • Hassan Ati, for Reaching the End
  • Morgan Williams, for Hidden Voices

Teacher: Elise Barry

  • Elodie Boyd, for Dissolving
  • Maria Goncharova, for Small Shoes to Fill
  • Maria Goncharova, for Duality of Me
  • Casey La, for Nightlight
  • Maggie Lu, for Handwoven Essence
  • Anjali Mandiwar, for Unyielding
  • Morgan Matherne, for Cerulean Circularity
  • Hannah Moore, for The Cycle Doesn’t Serve Me Anymore
  • Avery Ramsey, for Blue Collar Man
  • Mary Sheperd, for Girls Through the Glass
  • Cassidy Shimaj, for Masked
  • Renae Want, for Oblivion
  • Madison Witte, for Stop and Smell the Flowers
  • Rachel Won, for Greed

Teacher: Marilyn Guerinot

  • Josh Huang, for Fluid Elegance

Stratford High School
Teacher: Rachel Goins

  • Angela Garrido, for Rebrith

Regional Scholastic Art Silver Key winners from SBISD are:

Spring Forest Middle School
Teacher: Becky Mustachio

  • Kinley Cusimano, for The Shelter Dog

Stratford High School

Teacher: Rachel Goins

  • Paulina Auscucua, for Teen Spirit
  • Yeo Jin Lee, for Mr. Smolen
  • Valerie Warren, for Birthday Girl

Teacher: Lane Smolen

  • Zoe Ju, for Heartfelt Friendships
  • Catherine Kerns, for Spark
  • Felix Middleton, for Paradise Album Cover

Memorial High School
Teacher: Elizabeth Carney

  • Sloan Curtis, for Used
  • Cade West, for Mid-Flight

Teacher: Elise Barry

  • Avery Ramsey, for Distorted Display

Spring Woods High School

Teacher: Karen Barnett

  • Steven Simon Garcia, for Circle of Koi
  • Hyunchae (Lucy) Kim, for Mantra
  • Hyunchae (Lucy) Kim for a portfolio entry
  • Ally Starr, for Copper Contortion

Northbrook High School

Teacher: Christopher McVay

  • Crystal Joaquin, for Blossoms

See a slide show of SBISD regional Scholastic Art Gold and Silver Key winners’ artwork here.

More than words on a page

Each student name and artwork title on these lists represents long hours of effort, execution and perseverance. Their creations are truly astounding and inspiring. The teachers who encouraged the students during the highs and lows of the creative process truly exemplify the SBISD motto of Inspiring Minds. Shaping Lives.

We are #SBISDProud of each teacher and student whose creative collaborations represent the district so beautifully in the Houston area and at the state level. Visit the SBISD Visual Arts Program website to learn more.