Tullahoma High School senior Marissa Drummond received exciting news when she was notified that she is this year’s recipient of the Silver Key award from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.
Drummond’s accolade stems from a poem she penned titled “Die Twice.” Earlier this school year, THS Art Teacher Kelly Orr encouraged her National Art Honor Society students to submit some of their writings or artwork to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.
“I encourage my students to take any opportunity that is given to them,” Orr said. “When I find out about exhibits, contests, workshops, or anything of that nature that will help them excel, learn or grow as a student, I will always push them to participate. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens, and it is such an honor for her to receive the Silver Key award. Marissa is creative in so many ways. I know she will continue to amaze us with her talent after she graduates in May.”
According to Drummond, she submitted some of her artwork and some additional writing samples. However, she never expected to win an award but was extremely honored knowing that her words impacted the judges.
“Winning this award doesn’t necessarily validate my skills as a writer; I’m confident in those,” Drummond said. “Really, this verifies that what I say means something to somebody else. What I say can make a difference. I’ve always known that, but I’ve never really felt it until now.”
For Drummond, she uses artwork and writing as a way to express herself creatively, particularly when it comes to discussing difficult subjects and personal matters. In 2021, Drummond found herself going through hardships, or what she referred to as, “an incredibly rough patch.” During that time, she just started writing, and what came from that turned into her award-winning poem.
“I had never felt more sad, empty, or worthless in my life than I did at that point,” Drummond said. “I wondered what other people’s lives might be like if I was not around. I wrote this poem as a way to express all of that built-up negativity. Even though I thought living was tough at that time, I knew my life would turn around and that my life would get better.”
Her senior year of high school has been full of memorable moments, with the Silver Key award being the latest of Drummond’s accomplishments. This past summer, Drummond was selected to attend the Les Tapies Arts and Architecture Program in France. In the coming fall, she will begin pursuing her bachelor of architecture degree from LSU with the aid of a $98,200 grant she received from the university.
“I am incredibly excited, and I cannot wait to move into that chapter of my life,” Drummond exclaimed.
After learning the news of Drummond’s award, THS Principal Jason Quick was thrilled. According to Quick, it has been rewarding to see all the hard work that Drummond has put into her academics.
“Marissa is an excellent example of a student who exemplifies character, scholarship and leadership, and she has proven to be an outstanding young woman with many talents,” Quick said. “Academically, she is ranked eighth in her graduating class. She is also quite skilled in computer-aided design and has created multiple projects for THS to use for its campus improvements. Additionally, she serves as the president of the local chapter of the National Art Honor Society. I am so proud of her work, and it is great to see her success.”
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify students with exceptional artistic and literary talent and present their remarkable work to the world through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. These awards give students opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication and scholarships. In 2022, students across the United States and Canada entered more than 260,000 original works in 28 categories. Esteemed alums of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards include Andy Warhol, Tschabalala Self, Stephen King, Charles White, Joyce Carol Oates and Kay Walkingstick.
“Knowing that some of the alumni of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are incredibly influential people from the art and writing world makes the award I won all the more special,” Drummond said. “I don’t intend on becoming a world-renowned poet, but knowing that people as acclaimed as Warhol or King does add an extra level of significance to it.”