Congratulations to Wyatt Thompson ’23 on being nominated as a 2023 Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Wyatt is among 60 students from 21 states across nine artistic disciplines to be nominated by the National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts). Wyatt was recognized in the Film category for his documentary, Through Fire. This is the third year in a row that a Viewpoint film student has been nominated as a Presidential Scholar, and in 2021 and 2022 Viewpoint students were among the 20 students selected for this highest national honor.
Wyatt described his film this way: “Teenage addiction is a widespread issue that does not receive the attention it deserves. Through Fire tells the story of three teenagers who struggled with different forms of addiction. Through music, photography, and football, they developed new passions and discovered a path forward. The three teens, from very different backgrounds, knew they wanted help, but struggled to find people to talk to. With YoungArts, I hope my message will reach others struggling with addictions and let them know they’re not alone. Everyone goes through struggles in life, but nobody should be defined by them.”
Wyatt and his fellow nominees were selected by the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program following National YoungArts Week, the organization’s signature program held in Miami each year for YoungArts finalists across all nine disciplines. The next step is for the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars to select 20 honorees from among the 60 nominees, acknowledging "academic and artistic accomplishments, demonstrated leadership, community service, and outreach initiatives, and overall creativity.”
Wyatt has worked with Film Teacher Dan O’Reilly-Rowe for the past three years, and he had this to say:
It has been apparent to me over the years that Wyatt has been in my film classes that he is a remarkably talented young filmmaker, and it’s wonderful to see that assessment being shared by such a prestigious awards program. To be a finalist in the YoungArts Awards, and then to be subsequently selected as a nominee for the U.S. Presidential Scholar’s Award, confirms that Wyatt is operating at a level far beyond what is expected of high schoolaged filmmakers across the country. This type of recognition is an incredible boost to the career of the individual young person who receives it, but it also helps to affirm the work that is being done by Viewpoint’s film community as a whole. The fact that Wyatt has received this honor as a result of his documentary filmmaking is a good indicator of the breadth of the excellent cinematic production happening in our classes.
As an educator and filmmaker, it is such a rewarding experience to meet students like Wyatt in their middle school or early high school years and support them in their growth toward adulthood, university, and a career. Wyatt is an exceptional cinematic artist and technician, but what I have been most impressed with in the course of our work together these past three years is his thoughtful approach to making an impact with his work. Wyatt is deeply concerned with the ethical implications of audio-visual storytelling and approaches his subjects with a fundamental level of care and respect. We’re so proud of Wyatt and we thank him for representing our school and our department so well on the national stage.