High School Artists Honored for Receiving National Recognition
Two students from the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology and one from Towson High School are among the top talents in the nation.
Three Baltimore County students were honored earlier this week with the County Executive’s Citation after being named among the nation's top artistic talents.
The finalists honored were:
- Yasmin Naylor, a Windsor Mill resident and George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology student, won for her photography.
- Julia Yerger, a Timonium resident and George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology student, won in the category of visual arts.
- Will Fesperman, a Towson resident and Towson High School student, won for his poetry.
“We have a wealth of creativity in the Towson air. We congratulate you. You three are in a select circle out of 7,000 students across the country,” County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said at an awards ceremony Tuesday.
The students were named to a group of 148 finalists. YoungARTS honors students in nine categories: cinematic arts, dance, music, jazz, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing. It is from this group of finalists that Presidential Scholars are selected.
“To have it narrowed down to three in Baltimore County is remarkable,” Kamenetz said. “It’s very exciting. I don’t know where this will lead for you in later life, but it really is making use of arts in a positive way. You’re really role models for not only the other students in your schools but for every student in this county. That’s a really positive thing.”
The students were accompanied by family members and the educators who helped nurture their talents.
The finalists were announced in mid-January, during YoungARTS week in Miami, FL.
“I feel completely honored. It was something that was really unexpected,” said Yasmin Naylor, a senior at Carver. Yasmin was selected for her photography. She is one of the nation's top five high school photographers.
“We’re very excited about it. We’re definitely going to continue to motivate her … with a lot of hard work she can go anywhere in life,” said Desiree Naylor, Yasmin’s mother.
Yasmin was joined by her father Roy—who said the family was “blessed”—her grandparents, sister and teacher Carroll Cook.
“It really is humbling when you look at the competition,” Cook said of his star pupil. “Yasmin was selected as one of five high school photographers in the nation. … At this point, after going through three years at Carver she has already developed her own vision, her own track. I’m there to perpetuate that, to keep the fire going, to give her more ideas.”
Yasmin said she hopes to get into freelance photography and perhaps later pursue a career in fashion photography after college.
Julia Yerger, another Carver senior, was recognized for her painting.
“I feel very good and very humbled. I’m glad that everyone is happy about it. It’s nice to have a very supportive community,” Yerger said.
Julia’s mother, Carla Lodwick, was smiling ear to ear throughout the ceremony. She said she recognized her daughter’s artistic eye when she was in the first or second grade.
“It’s almost like a dream,” Lodwick said. “I’ve always known that she’s always been artistic, but to see and hear it in numbers that there were 7,000 applicants and that she was one of 150 chosen, it’s really huge.
“Because she is such a sweet natured person, it makes us feel even more proud. You just want to pinch yourself because you can’t believe it’s real,” Lodwick continued.
Yerger said she plans on going to college to explore other visual arts disciplines.
“I think film is the most powerful form of art, in my opinion. I’m still kind of new at it, still experimenting with it. But that is something I want to explore,” Yerger said.
Both Yerger and Yasmin’s recognitions add to the numerous merits awarded to Carver. In the last year the school has received the Outstanding Art Schools Network Award and the National Outstanding Arts Education Award from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“They come to us with this passion to do the work, the art. Then, you combine that with amazing faculty, who truly believe that on their time it’s their turn to make their students' dreams come true,” said Karen Steele, Carver's principal. “You combine those two things and explosive things happen. … It’s a perfect mixture.”
Though Carver’s artistic accolades are notable, it’s not every day that a Towson High School senior can delve deeply into the complexities of Baltimore life through poetry.
In less than a year after taking a creative writing class at Towson High, Will sharpened his craft to become a creative writing finalist in YoungARTS for his poetry.
“I’m really honored and I’m really glad that I got the chance to go down to Miami. I met a lot of great people and it made me really excited about writing,” Fesperman said.
Will was kind enough to forward a poem from his portfolio that earned him national recognition.
I want to sit with the Asian woman
who, on a park bench outside Peabody,
cups her hands around her face
to make a private place for crying.
I want to feel what smolders
in the throats of those flinty-eyed
radicals with patchy beards,
hissing about the proletariat
in Red Emma’s over cups of chai.
I want to give my money,
my vision of 2020,
to the woman in Mount Vernon
with creased black leather skin
who flashes a bitter eye at the policeman,
If they don’t want my gay rights,
then why they want my gay dollars?
I want to know the last names of the men
who sat with me on a water-stained mattress,
listening to I have a dream, that one day
this nation—this city—
this battered brick firehouse
with faded slogans turned
home for addicts
will balloon to astral heights;
I want to walk among hot,
stopped cars on MLK
with the sweaty boys peddling bottled water,
shouting, searching faces
for someone to meet their stare.
I want to listen to mumblings
and laughter of the people
hanging outside on slumped porches
and by the chainlink car shops
that make a long bleak line
down North Avenue,
down to a dead end of stone gates,
the Baltimore Cemetery with its
fields of white obelisks,
of etched names.
In traffic-light daydreams,
I walk the rows and read them all,
not knowing or remembering
“When I was younger, I always wrote little stories. I stopped writing for awhile, until I took that creative writing class,” Will said.
Will’s parents expressed their appreciation to the Baltimore County Public School system for aiding their son’s educational development.
“They really push him to get as much out of his talent as he can,” Dan Fesperman, Will’s father, said. “He’s always been open to different kinds of fiction and poetry and all kinds of different reading. It’s nice to see when he has that kind of insatiable appetite to see it catered to by good teaching.”
“I don’t think he sees it that way,” Dan jokingly interjected.
But Will’s talents extend beyond English literature.
“He’s also pretty good at music and he has an interest in biology,” Bowie said. “We want him to do what he wants to do and find his own way, find his own talent. He has to have a passion for whatever he’s going to do.”