PHS senior wins top art award





Abigail Leander, Plainville High School class of 2018 salutatorian and Plainville native, received a silver medal and scored in the top 1 percent in the country in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

“I’ve always found merit in the arts, and I used to be really into photography – I still am,” said Leander. “I wasn’t really into drawing and art, specifically, until my sophomore year where I took a foundations class, and then after that it kind of just took off from there. I just kind of found a lot of it helped a lot with my stress and like, relaxation, and then I found really enjoy it and spend my time doing something that came up with a final product. And then, I like music as well, I’ve been doing that since I was in the fifth grade, that’s very similar, kind of, to art, like a very stress relieving thing for me to do, and just enjoy.”

Leander’s piece, a charcoal drawing of her foster dog, “Polly,” received a gold key at the state level, and went on to score in the top 1 percent out of the 350,000 pieces submitted at the national level.

“So it started out at the state level, the Scholastic Art Award. Mr. (Mario) Pires chose a selection of students to have their art submitted (and several of us) received awards at the state level,” said Leander. “I received the Gold Key, and then from there it moves on to a more national one where I was awarded a silver medal for my drawing, ‘Polly.’ It’s like from everyone in the United States: each state has its own state level competition that sends everyone to the national one, and then fortunately I was selected to be one of the silver medal winners.”

According to the Scholastic Art and Writing Award website,, at the regional level, the Gold Key award is “the very best work submitted to local programs” and “Gold Key works are automatically considered for national-level recognition. At the national level, the silver medal is ‘works demonstrating high honors at the national level.’

The subject of her piece, Polly, is just one of the Leander family foster dogs. Leander explained that each summer, her family will foster about five or six dogs, giving them a loving home until they can be adopted, and a new dog can be placed with their family.

This autumn, Leander plans to attend the University of Connecticut, where she will study allied health studies.

“I want to be a physician’s assistant, so I plan to do, after UCONN, a graduate program,” said Leander. “I’ve thought about- I’m in between pediatrics and trauma.”

Leander spent her high school career playing soccer, playing the saxophone as a member of the jazz band, serving on the State Student Advisory Council on Education, and was a member of the Spanish National Honor Society, and the Science National Honor Society. She also works part time at Board and Brush, a do-it-yourself personalized wood sign studio.

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Abigail Leander of Plainville High School with her prize-winning artwork. (TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER PHOTO)