News Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

SHS shooter makes swift study

Saugatuck High School junior Leilani Schoonmaker’s journey through a lens crescendoed — so far — with a National Scholastic Art Awards Gold Medal.
Her black-and-white photo of the 2023 Portage Cross Country Invitational start (below) made Schoonmaker SHS art teacher Daniel Hanna’s fourth student so far to win top NSAA ho — again, so far — honors.
Schoonmaker shot it on assignment for Hanna’s “Intro to Photography” class, taught through a dual rnrollment program with Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids.
Before going national, three of the first-year student’s photos won Gold Keys and two more Silvers in the West Central Michigan Regional SAA competition.
SHS junior classmates Layla Vinten-Johansen (a linocut) and Alayah Nieuwsma (photograph) also earned Regional Gold Keys for their works.
Junior Madaline Fowler received a Silver Key for her drawing and an Honorable Mention for a painting she entered in the competition.
In addition, juniors Ethan Gorman, Jaiden Myler, Meryn Curtis and Mallory Hass, plus sophomore Avery Smith received Honorable Mentions for their works.
Schoonmaker will celebrate her achievement this fall at the New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education, where her work will be displayed as a part of the 2024 National Exhibition.
Only six other West Central Michigan Region students went on to win national gold medals in any category. Schoonmaker was the only winner in photography. In 2023, less than 90 works were awarded national gold medals in the photography division.
“The camera,” said Dorothea Lange, “is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
Schoonmaker is sharing that vision with others too.

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