Students’ creative talents shine in the Student Recognition Project

This year, over 1,600 students competed in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District’s Student Recognition Project. With 23 diverse categories, from instrumental music to culinary arts, the Student Recognition Project rewards students for their unique talents.

A total of 275 submissions were selected either as winners or honorable mention in a category. Below are a few Dougherty Valley submissions that received awards that represent the wide spectrum of Dougherty Valley students’ skills, passions and talents.

Alison Fang

Winner: Visual Arts-Color

What started off as two-week AP art assignment turned into a winning masterpiece. Fang’s piece, titled “Metamorphosis”, was inspired by her transition from a child to a young adult. The woman depicted is changing into different colors.

Fang shares, “The woman is expressing the struggle of change and how it’s not always easy.”

Likewise, the artistic process was difficult as well.

She elaborates,  “I used water soluble oil pastels, a medium I’ve never worked with before, so getting used to it was huge challenge. Everything actually turned out a lot different than I initially thought, but that’s part of the process, and it contributed to my win.”

Jessica Meng

Honorable Mention: Community Service

After volunteering over 220 hours at the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Shelter, Meng decided she would enter an essay describing her five years of service in the Student Recognition Project. Initially, her duties as a Feline Caretaker were to clean litter boxes, provide food and water, wash blankets and beds and organize toys. Now, her main responsibility is to talk to potential adopters and find the best cat for each family.

In her essay, Meng shares, “To me, volunteering at the animal shelter means much more than just petting cats and smiling over their cuteness. It is about giving animals a voice they are incapable of having … The thought of how much worse their lives are than mine and that they still sit next to the door wagging their tails makes me realize how fortunate I am to have a family who loves me.”

Lilly Mei

Winner: Fashion Design

As a winner in the fashion design category last year, Mei wanted to challenge herself and create something unique. Her submission, titled “Mixing Mini & Maxi”, is a lavender colored dress that changes skirt length and shape via Velcro and zippers. The inspiration for her design came from Katniss Everdeen’s transforming dresses worn throughout “The Hunger Games” movies. Materials used include knit spandex and white chiffon. After a month of brainstorming, Mei transformed her ideas into a sketch, factored in measurements and formed patterns on tissue paper. Utilizing the patterns to cut fabric and assembling the pieces with her sewing machine, however, only took a few days.  

Mei shares, “My approach to fashion design is almost always an engineering approach: I find a solution to a problem or need.”

Brandon Cruz

Honorable Mention: Visual Arts Black and White

Although usually known for his colorful, graphic works, Cruz received recognition for a black and white scratchboard piece featuring Chewbacca. A scratchboard piece is created from a cardboard panel with a coat of white clay all covered by a layer of black ink; the surface starts completely black. After five hours of work, Cruz brought Chewbacca to life by scratching the inked surface with a sharp tool, exposing the white and utilizing the black to create a defined image.

He shared, “I wanted to make my piece unique because everyone was already drawing different animals, so I figured why not add something I love to the piece, like Star Wars and hairy creatures.”

As with many artists, Cruz’s favorite part of creating the piece was “watching the final product come together and seeing everyone’s reaction to it.”