What inspires the eye behind the camera? A friend climbing in and out of tree limbs, a close-up portrait of a fellow classmate, or perhaps it is the reflection of teenaged friends playing dress-up in an attic. For Chris Baer’s photography students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, it doesn’t matter if they take a picture digitally or with film, it’s about having a good eye and good ideas.

There were 31 good ideas that stood out this year at the high school, earning top prizes from the Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards, the most the high school has ever received.

“It’s pretty impressive how well these kids did this year; I’m really proud of them,” Mr. Baer said yesterday. “A lot of the winners were freshmen and sophomores which is interesting. They’ve shifted the age brackets over the years with the contest, so this year there was a ninth grade, tenth grade bracket. Most of the awards came out of there.”

Called Lines, photo won freshman a gold key. — Willoe Maynard

The Boston Globe Scholastic Art awards have been handed out for the past 55 years to Massachusetts students in grades 7 through 12. More than 3,500 students entered this year, with 150 students winning gold keys statewide and 291 students winning silver keys. Categories included animation, mixed media, computer art, ceramics and glass, sculpture, video, printmaking, design and writing.

Photography students are required to submit their work digitally, whether they were taken with a digital camera or on film.

“Everything is digitized at some point but some pieces it’s so hard to tell now,” Mr. Baer said. Senior Tova Katzman’s film prints in her senior portfolio earned her two gold keys, the highest prize awarded in the competition.

“The kids all do some film at some point in the semester in my advanced class, but then they switch back and forth,” Mr. Baer explained. “Freshmen and sophomores are almost exclusively digital just because we don’t need to introduce those skills until later on.”

Mr. Baer went through 1,000 prints in the digital archives of the 2010 spring and fall semesters and narrowed the field to 150 contenders. After a meeting with the rest of the art department, 50 were selected for submission.

Gold and silver key winners will have their work displayed in Boston at the State Transportation Building starting Monday and running through April 7, and will receive their awards on March 6. Gold key winners are automatically entered into the national competition in New York city. Awards are expected to be announced for those in the next few weeks.

“I think they all worked very hard, they are a group of very serious artists and I’m excited for them,” Mr. Baer said. “Fingers crossed, we’ll see what happens in the national competition.”

Part of gold key-winning photography portfolio. — Conor Estes

Students at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School also excelled in the competition this year. Senior Jess Dupon received two gold keys, one for her portfolio of creative writing titled Puzzle Pieces and another for a personal memoir titled Merely Cracked.

“Last year was the first year I ever submitted work,” Jess said in an interview this week. “I got an honorable mention last year and I was determined to try and step it up and do better this year.”

Most of her pieces are memoirs; she is involved in a project that will exhibit her work in larger format at Featherstone Center for the Arts in April.

“Mathea Morais has been helping me in the process of putting the work together, but I’ve been doing it primarily on my own,” Jess said. “All the pieces I’ve written and edited myself.”

Jess has applied for admission to Boston University and will not know until April whether she is accepted. The young writer who just won a gold key for her work plans to study math and become a math teacher.

What follows is a complete list of the Island Boston Globe Scholastic Art award winners.

Martha’s Vineyard

Regional High School:

Gold key portfolio winners:

Tova Katzman, 12th grade, art and photography, two gold keys; also honorable mention in painting.

Vivian Ewing, 12th grade, photography.

Conor Estes, 12th grade, photography.

Other regional high school winners:

Truda Silberstein, 11th grade, photography, gold key, silver key.

Issy Smith, 9th grade, photography, gold key.

Nicole Parkhurst, 10th grade, photography, gold key.

Willoe Maynard, 9th grade, photography, gold key.

Sarah Gruner, 10th grade, photography, gold key.

Lauren Dostal, 10th grade, photography, gold key.

A Russian Pattern . . . also will go on to New York. — Eli Dagostino

Eli Dagostino, 10th grade, photography, gold key.

Samantha Valley, 10th grade, photography, silver key.

Aoife Estes, 10th grade, photography, silver key.

Kelsey Dandeneau, 10th grade, photography, silver key.

Sarah Alexander, 9th grade, photography, honorable mention.

Amber Bettencourt, 9th grade, photography, honorable mention.

Kelsey DeBettencourt, 11th grade, architecture, honorable mention.

Evan Eagen, 12th grade, photography, honorable mention.

Eva Faber, 11th grade, photography, honorable mention.

Joseph Forner, 12th grade, drawing, honorable mention.

Douglas Fraser, 12th grade, architecture, honorable mention.

Annabelle Hackney, 10th grade, photography, honorable mention.

Dana Jacobs, 10th grade, photography, honorable mention.

Courtney Minnehan, 12th grade, ceramics, honorable mention.

Hannah Moore, 10th grade, sculpture, honorable mention.

Sarah Ortlip-Sommers, 9th grade, photography, honorable mention.

Ian Tripp, 11th grade, photography, honorable mention.

John Vogel, 10th grade, photography, honorable mention.


Charter School winners:

Jess Dupon, 12th grade, creative writing, two gold keys.

Zen Hughes, 11th grade, poetry, silver key.

Zana van Rooyen, 8th grade, watercolor, gold key.

Alistair Rizza, 8th grade, graphite, silver key.