valley oaks

Saida Woolf and Cora Shea Sweeney

Saida Woolf and Cora Shea Sweeney create art daily. Their tenacity and passion for art has resulted in them both having artwork recognized in the 97th annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative teens.

Since 1923, the Scholastic Awards have recognized some of America’s most celebrated artists when they were teenagers. Woolf and Sweeney are proud to join the ranks of distinguished awards alumni Andy Warhol, Stephen King, Kay WalkingStick, Joyce Carol Oates, Charles White and Tschabalala Self, all of whom received recognition through the program when they were teens.

This is Woolf’s second time entering the Scholastic Awards. In 2019, she won a gold key, two silver keys and an honorable mention for her digital artwork and original video game. In this year’s 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Woolf garnered a gold key for her editorial cartoon, a silver key for a video game she created for an online game jam, and an honorable mention for a digital painting inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Sweeney won two gold keys in the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her creative, aquatic-themed digital paintings, and an honorable mention for an acrylic painting.

Both girls are thankful for their teachers and mentors, Colleen Farrell, Susan Page and Nena Thornburg, who have been supportive in assisting with applications and recommendations.

All works were adjudicated on three criteria: originality, technical skill and the emergence of a personal voice or vision.

The girls are very pleased that they both took home awards. As friends, they continually encourage one another in their art. They often enter the same contests and end up competing “against” one another, but this never results in hard feelings because they are both thrilled when the other is recognized for her hard work and creativity. Woolf and Sweeney encourage other teen artists and writers to enter the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in the fall. Visit for more information.

Joanne Woolf writes publicity for Valley Oaks High School and is the mother of Saida Woolf.