Jesse Zhang ’20 Receives National Gold Key; Students Earn 19 Regional Art & Writing Awards

Jesse Zhang ’20 earned a National Gold Key in the 2019 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for his photograph "Into the Light.” Zhang, of Beijing, China, also received a Regional Gold Key and Honorable Mention for an essay and another photograph, respectively. A total of 20 works by Mercersburg students earned recognition at the national or regional levels.
“It is an incredible honor to receive this distinction,” says Kristen Pixler, a member of the arts-department faculty and a photography instructor at Mercersburg. “Jesse has been dedicated to the art and craft of photography throughout his career at Mercersburg Academy. This award is a reflection of his passion and dedication to his.”

According to Zhang, the photo was taken in his original hometown before sunset when the light was very strong, creating a contrast between buildings.
“I was walking around with some friends and suddenly I turned around and saw this great geometric quality of the scenery and took a photo,” Zhang says. “But then I realized there should be some life in there, so I waited for someone to walk by and took another photo. I think the great thing about this photo is that it could be read in many ways, and to me, that's really cool.”

Zhang qualified for the national competition after receiving a Gold Key in the Regional Scholastic Awards.

“Having my art receive an award at this level definitely means a lot to me in that it recognizes the effort I have made to better myself as a photographer, and I'm grateful for it,” Zhang said. “Though at the end of the day an award is just an award, the process of creating this photo and the stories behind it is more important.”

A number of other Mercersburg students placed at the regional level.

Gold Key recipients include Lucy Bowman ’21 for her photograph “The Storm Inside”
; Harriet Brown ’22 for her photo “Through Painted Glass”; Cherie Sio ’19 for her painting“Her Wonderland”; Selina Xue ’20 for her photo “Untitled”; and Zhang for his essay “By the Way, Your Eyes are…”.

Silver Key recipients include Noah Choi ’20 for his painting “Abandoned Places”; Berklee Cohen ’20 for his drawing and illustration “Kool-Aid Hypocrisy”; Joyce Cui ’22 for her drawing and illustration “Master Drawing”; and Sio for her paintings “By the Water By the Light” and “That Night in New York City.”

Honorable Mention recipients include Jay Howley ’21 for his personal essay “Chicken Scratch”; Birdy McDonnell ’20 for her poem “Honey”; Bowman for her photograph titled “The Calm Inside”; Choi for his painting “Connected”
; Gigi Fung ’19 for her mixed media “Flo”and printmaking “La dernière fois”; Elaigha Vilaysane ’19 for her mixed media “View from the Whitney”; Naeemah Winter ’20 for her painting “Yellow Dancer”; Elizabeth Yang ’20 for her mixed media “La vérité est dans les yeux”; and Zhang for his photography “On My Own.”
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Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236
GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236
717-328-6173