Funding for arts education is once again on the chopping block, but that doesn’t mean teachers have stopped encouraging students to develop their creativity. Some of the most expressive work produced this school year by the nation’s middle and high school students was recently recognized at the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards—the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens. The awards ceremony and accompanying gallery reveals inspiring and inventive arts education from around the country and the importance of arts educators in the lives of students.

The competition is accessible to teens who come from urban and rural schools and from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. There were roughly 330,000 submissions in art and writing this year, about 90,000 teens won at the state level, and 2,700 national winners attended the celebration last week in New York City. Students accompanied by their families and, at times, their teachers picked up their awards and certificates at the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, but the official awards ceremony took place at Carnegie Hall.