Showcasing talent encourages exploration | April 17, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - April 17, 2009

Showcasing talent encourages exploration

by Maria Shen

The Student Recognition Project competition recently announced its winners. As always, I'm amazed by the youth talent in this area. All high school students in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District were invited to participate. There was no entry fee and a tempting $200 reward for all winners.

When I was a freshman at Monte Vista High School, I entered a short story in the competition and, to my surprise, won. At the time, none of my friends knew I liked to write. I hadn't told anyone I would be entering the competition. For someone who was not at all confident in her writing abilities, winning the competition was recognition that inspired me to start showing people my work. But, more than that, when I went to the showcase of all the winners, I was astounded by the talent I saw. I loved moving across the room, ooh-ing and aah-ing at colorful displays of paintings and drawings, photographs and fashion designs. Inspecting a beautiful photograph, I found that it was taken by one of my friends - someone I never knew could hold a camera, much less handle it so adroitly.

The Student Recognition Project should be commended; it discovers and reinforces talent throughout the district. I know from my personal experience and what I've seen from my friends that high school is where most of us begin to grasp our identities and flesh out our passions. At such an important juncture of our lives, the opportunities and awards provided by the program give teenagers a helpful nudge and a clue to what we may really love to do. Whether or not we make a career of our hobbies is to be seen, but I think, for most of us, the work we display in this competition is indicative of the passions that stay with us and become part of our daily lives.

The Business and Education Roundtable, which sponsors the project, is run by donations from businesses in the school district. For years, the Roundtable has provided local teens with an opportunity to shine in a wide variety of areas. Competition included Acting, Applied Design, Architecture, Computer Aided Drafting, Community Service, Creative Writing, Culinary Arts, Dance, Entrepreneur, Fashion Design, Financial Planning/Investment, Journalism, Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, Digital and Film Photography, Robotics, Science and Technology, Video Production, Visual Arts and Web Design. According to the school district Web site, the judging is done by professionals in the field in order to promote collaboration between the business people and educators. Through this project, teens are encouraged to explore their keen interests outside of school.

In an effort to alleviate the budget crisis in the district, local high school students from Monte Vista plan to put together a literary magazine with the writing, photography and art winners of the Student Recognition Project competition. Tavish Nanda from Monte Vista High School is the co-president of the Young Bohemians and he will be working with the district to make the magazine available to everyone in the community. So, stay tuned for news of the magazine from your schools and local businesses. It should be available in select bookstores in San Ramon and Danville. It's a great way to contribute money to our wonderful school district and also to promote the artistic endeavors of high school students.

Maria Shen, reporting on Generation Y, is a senior at Monte Vista High School. She founded Contra Costa County's Young Bohemians creative writing club and is editor of Voicebox, a literary magazine. E-mail her at


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