Nebraska students receive national writing awards

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers recently announced National Medalists in the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, with three students from Nebraska being named National Medalists, and one, Ashley Binstock of Wahoo, being one of 11 writing students nationally to receive the program’s highest honor. To qualify for national consideration, these students first received a Gold Key Award in the Nebraska writing awards, which were sponsored and managed by Hastings College.

More than 260,000 works of art and writing were submitted by teens from U.S. territories, Canada, and every state in the nation for awards this year. Works by 40,000 students received regional recognition, and nearly 2,000 works earned national awards in the nation’s longest running and most prestigious program for creative teens in grades 7-12.

Binstock received a Gold Medal and American Voices Medal for her piece “Freedom Tastes Like Blood” in the Science Fiction and Fantasy category. She also received a Gold Medal for her Portfolio “Welcome Back to Earth.”

Binstock was one of 11 students nationally to receive a Gold Medal Portfolio Award in writing, which comes with a $10,000 scholarship from the organization. This is the program’s highest honor.

Charlotte Coughlin of Ceresco, Nebraska, received a Silver Medal for her short story “Platonic Soulmate.”

Megan Lambert of Boys Town, Nebraska, received a Silver Medal for her piece, “When I Was Your Everything.”

“It really is wonderful to see this national recognition for three of our award recipients, and to have one receive the program’s top honor. There are many talented young writers in Nebraska, and we’re glad to see them recognized and celebrated,” said Dr. Patricia Oman, associate professor of English, director of the Hastings College Press and chair of the Department of Languages and Literatures.

National Medalists will be honored during a celebration in Carnegie Hall in New York City in June.

“Each year we are continually impressed by the level of creativity demonstrated by our nation’s teens. Even more impressive are the individuality, vulnerability, sensitivity and passion reflected in their work,” said Chris Wisniewski, executive director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. “Teens and their teachers have been living through truly unprecedented times, enduring unbelievably challenging circumstances. We’re all privileged to experience this year’s Scholastic Art & Writing Awards medalists’ accomplishments, which channel the hopes, fears, anger, frustrations, desires—voices—of remarkable young people to inspire us all. We thank the educators who guided and supported these students through this past year while still encouraging creative expression.”

Last fall, students age 13 and above from all 93 counties of Nebraska were invited to submit original work in any of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards’ writing categories, including flash fiction and poetry.

Works were judged by a panel of Hastings College faculty, staff and students. Hastings College held a regional awards ceremony in February to recognize 24 young writers from across Nebraska. Gold Key pieces then advanced to the national level for adjudication by a panel of leading creative professionals for the national awards.

Submissions will open again this fall for the 2023 state awards, which Hastings College will once again sponsor.

Hastings College is a four-year residential college that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. Hastings’ student-centered initiatives include providing books, an iPad and a two-week study away experience at no additional cost. A block-style semester schedule allows professors and students to focus on fewer classes at a time and promotes hands-on experiences. Discover more at

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