Students Participate In Annual VASE Competition


Shetye Cypher (2019-2020), Editor

Tompkins High School Art Department participates in the annual  VASE Competition (VASE stands for Visual Art Scholastic Education). The OTHS Art teachers (Emily Smelser, Christie Skinner, Kim Nguyen, and Erin Mitchell) all have a variety of level students participating this year. The division level indicates how many years they have been in art, and their art work will only compete against the same division of work. For example Art 1 student only goes against other Art 1 students, this creates a fair judging so a student who only has one year of art doesn’t go against a student who may have 3 or 4 years of experience. Students create either a 2-D or 3-D piece of art and submit it through an online portal. Normally the competition is held in person, where the students would have to speak about their art piece to a judge, but due to COVID they moved the competition online, and the judging happens through a series of online questions.

      “It is a UIL competition, so students need to abide by the ‘no pass no play’ rules, and be in good standing with their grades. The first round of judging consists of only our District, which is called Region 4. All artwork is judged on a scale 1-4. If at District the artwork receives a score of a 4 (top rating), then it moves on to Regional Qualifications where it is judged for a second time against other Districts. If again it receives a score of a 4, then it moves on to State Qualifications and is judged for the final time against all the other regions,” said Smelser. “It is a very intense process and students around the state enter their 3D or 2D pieces to compete against each other”

   “We are scored from a grade from 1 to 4. Pieces that get a score of 4 move onto the next level where they choose the top 10 percent of pieces,” said Senior Langston Burns.

 Contestants are asked for their thoughts on their piece, how they made it and what it is about.

   “This year, we are not getting those interviews. From what I know we aren’t even going on Zoom,  we are just submitting our pieces and answering questions on a piece of paper,” said Burns.

If the participants perform well they can earn a letterman jacket. Also depending how far their art work goes they get different levels of medals. “You do currently have to be in Art if you want to participate and for the students that are in, they can earn scholarships, medals, getting noticed by art programs, all depending on how they perform,” said Smelser.

    Students that are in the competition have volunteered to be in it, they were not selected. The reason for that choice is because the Art Department wants students who are motivated and determined to do well.