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Student Artists Take Home 38 MN Scholastic Art Awards

MSAA Gold Key 2021 A total of 20 Columbia Heights High School (CHHS) art students and two Columbia Academy (CA) art students together earned 38 awards in the 2021 Minnesota Scholastic Arts Awards (MSAA) – a competition organized by Art Educators of Minnesota.

The art students – taught by Art Teachers Arnie Hamel (CA), Sarah Honeywell (CHHS) and Hannah Starke (CHHS) – earned four Gold Key awards, 15 Silver Key awards and 19 Honorable Mentions.

"This year has presented tremendous adversity and hardship for us all. Our art students have had to dig deep into their personal reserves to create this artwork,” said Honeywell. “These students demonstrated tremendous strength of will and a commitment to express their unique visions. It is greatly celebrated but not surprising, that this year's awards resulted in more decoration and significant honors.”

Four students earned Gold Key awards: Natasha Riera (grade 9) for “Industrious,” Hanan Hussein (grade 11) for “Empowerment Robe,” Tenzin Tsering (grade 11) for “A Virtuoso Edifice,” and Tamisha Castro Bello (grade 12) for “Self-Portrait.”

A total of 11 students earned Silvery Key awards: Jivin Ranjeet (grade 9) for “Decorate Her,” Lily Kleinshmit (grade 9) for “Calliope,” Alexis Druley (grade 10) for “Dissociation,” Dalia Hernandez Quin (grade 10) for “Rushed,” Ismahan Abdirahman (grade 10) for “Downtown,” Kiera Griffin (grade 10) for an untitled project, Brook Desta (grade 11) for “Travel Poster,” Hanan Hussein (grade 11) for “Concealed,” Simon Graves (grade 11) for “For a Greater Future,” Tenzin Tsering (grade 11) for “Meditative Reservoir,” and Alexander Avendano (grade 12) for “Self-Portrait.” Tamisha Castro Bello earned four Silver Key awards for “Error4190,” “Silent Ocean,” “Safe Space,” and for her portfolio.

Honorable Mentions were received by 11 students: Mae Skaja (grade 8) for an untitled project, Melat Mezgebe (grade 8) for and untitled project, Danielle Dickson (grade 10) for “Closed for Life,” Lidya Kennedy (grade 10) for “Country Road,” Simon Graves (grade 11) for “Where is The End Night?” Iona Burton (grade 12) for “Idle,” and Keanu Johnson (grade 12) for “Golf.” Alexis Druley (grade 10) received three for her works “Eyes Lit Up,” “Exodus,” and an untitled project. Jessica Yuquililma (grade 12) received three for her works “Smudge,” “Dior,” and “Alone in Tokyo.” Michelle Mendez Bravo (grade 12) received four for her works “Time,” “Around the World,” “Pink Dusk,” and “Sugar Sweet.” Tenzin Dolkar received two for her works “My Mother is My Shield” and “Glasses.”

“I am extremely proud of Melat and Mae for receiving Honorable Mention recognition. They are both such dedicated students and enormously talented artists,” said Hamel. “In addition to their obvious skill level, they both bring such mature ideas and profound insights into their work. I look forward to seeing what they create in the years to come.”

“Columbia Heights students are relentless in their vision for success,” Honeywell noted. “When it gets hard, we go harder!"

The Minnesota Scholastic Art Awards was established in 1923 and is the longest-running program of its kind in the nation.

All winning works are being showcased online at This year’s awards were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The judging of over 2,000 submissions was held Saturday, Jan. 9. A virtual awards ceremony will be held Saturday, Feb. 27.