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“It’s exciting:” Talented ‘Tosa teen headed to Carnegie Hall for winning prestigious national award

WAUWATOSA -- A talented Wauwatosa teen has received a prestigious national award, and now, he's headed to New York.

This is the first time in Wauwatosa East High School history that a student has won two national portfolios in the same year, winning both a gold and silver medal in the Scholastic Art & Writing Award program. With the program's alumni including the likes of Stephen King, Robert Redford and Andy Warhol, this acknowledgement could open up many doors in his future.

"I really like illustrating things that are fun, extravagant, exciting," said Sam Zanowski, senior.

Zanowski's passion for art is matched by his skill, technique and vision.

Sam Zanowski

"This is Space Station, kind of a cut-in-half view," said Zanowski.

Zanowski on Tuesday, March 31st described the pieces of work that make up his award-winning portfolio.

"This one is About The Girl. She's always thinking she has bugs crawling on her," said Zanowski.

Sam Zanowski artwork

Zanowski took real life stories from classmates and turned them into illustrations which he entered into the comic art category of the Scholastic Art & Writing Award program.

"I'm excited for Sam. I'm proud of Sam," said Kelly Frederick Mizer, Wauwatosa East High School art department chair.

Sam Zanowski

Mizer, who won a gold educator award herself, said the student competition was fierce.

"There were 330,000 entries this year and over 14,000 portfolios," said Mizer.

Zanowski is one of just 16 high school seniors to receive the program's highest national honor.

"I won a national gold medal and a silver medal for the other one," said Zanowski.

The prize comes with a trip to Carnegie Hall.

Sam Zanowski artwork

"I'm hoping the connections I make will help me attend college, career, exposure," said Zanowski.

The award also comes with a $10,000 scholarship -- adding to the almost $700,000 in scholarship offers Zanowski has to date.

"It's exciting and I guess it's validation that I'm making good work and encouragement to continue doing that, encouragement that I'm able to make a career out of that," said Zanowski.

Zanowski said he's interested in majoring in animation or illustration and going on to working for a syndicated television show or produce shows for Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon or Adult Swim. His talents will continue to be celebrated in June, during an award ceremony at Carnegie Hall.