Ray Huard…. Sophie Crawford wanted to depict the struggles and challenges she and others overcome as they work through high school.
She did it with a photograph of classmate Taylor Honore, wearing a red graduation cap-and-gown, holding what appears to be a diploma in his left hand, standing with arms outstretched on the running track at Rancho Buena Vista High School in the Vista Unified School District.
Jessamene “Jess” Perez wanted to make a statement about how people from diverse backgrounds should respect each other, “and they should be able to hang out as one and not judge one another by what they look like or where they come from.
She did it with a photograph of a soccer ball as seen from below, held aloft by several hands with a bright blue sky in the background.
The photographs by Jess and Sophie won the state-wide Education for All photography contest, sponsored by Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost law firm and The Association of African American Superintendents.
The award comes with a $1,000 scholarship for each student.
Sophie, a senior at Rancho Buena Vista, said she was “in awe,” when she heard that her photograph was a winner.
“My jaw dropped, I thought, ‘No freaking way,’” Sophie said. Jess, a junior at Rancho Buena Vista, said that she was “really excited and freaking out” when she got the news.
“I didn’t think I’d actually win or anything,” Jess said. “When I got notified, I was really excited and happy.” Their teacher, Kelly Moncure, said that Sophie and Jess “are both really terrific kids.” “It’s really nice to see them both kind of blossom,” Moncure said.
She said that Sophie’s idea of a graduating student reaching the finish line on a track “was really clever.”
“She had a very strong sense of what she wanted and I think she was able to execute it.” Moncure said.
Sophie said that running high school track for three years made her think of using the track as the setting of her photograph.
“Track is really hard on your body, but you still get through it,” Sophie said. She said the same is true for high school academics and the challenges some students face outside of school.
In a written explanation of her photograph, Sophie wrote that “In high school, you run into many struggles and conflicts that may bring complications to achieving your goal. But no matter what, you still get up and push through all the way to graduation.”
Sophie wrote that crossing the finish line in a cap-and-gown represents academic achievement, “because graduation is the ultimate achievement in high school,” adding that, “I thought the perfect way to show achievement in education was through a race to the finish line.”
“The next step after crossing the finish line is what comes next in your journey of life,” she wrote.
Sophie will attend Vanguard University, a private Christian school in Costa Mesa.
Her goal is to become a teacher, and her dream job would be to teach at Vista Unified’s Lake Elementary School, where she interned.
Jess said that after watching schoolmates form cliques, she wanted her photograph to make a statement about diversity and inclusion.
“Teens divide one another in social groups because they don’t look or act the same way we want them to. It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences,” Jess wrote in a note explaining her work.
“As we get older, we don’t see the beauty in diversity, we see colors and divide one another by them,” she wrote. “Young people need to be taught that diversity is OK and should embrace it.”
Moncure said that she was impressed by the way Jess staged the photograph.
“I kind of like the way she’s reaching up to the sky,” Moncure said.
Jess said she gets her interest in photography from her mother, who is a professional wedding photographer.
“I like capturing pictures that people don’t see with their own eyes,” Jess said, adding that, for now, photography is a hobby Jess said.
She plans to study nursing at Palomar College.