Only Smiles: Peter Xiao Wins Two Scholastic Silver Medals

Dedham, Mass.-- When Dedham resident Peter Xiao won two Regional Silver Key Medals in the Scholastic Writing & Art Award contest at the end of January, he chose two drawings from his AP Art portfolio at Catholic Memorial School for his submissions.

He named the drawings, “Smiles.” For good reason too.

“Smiling is the thread that goes through my four years here at CM,” said Peter, a senior from Beijing.

“Smiles are what inspire me. I like to smile, it’s an important part of my character. I feel like this year, when I chose the concentration of my art, I thought about my experience at CM. I somehow related it to my smiles, my teachers’ smiles, everyone’s smiles.”

A year ago, Peter won the National Gold Medal for his charcoal drawing of the Santa Maria statue that stood on display in CM’s old Administrative Wing.

This year, he says, his artwork demonstrates the totality of his four-year experience in America.

“The amazing faculty at CM gave me this newfound sense of community and continue to facilitate a culture of brotherhood,” said Peter.

“It’s an environment full of love, really. I feel loved and cared for. I feel carried by others. It’s a feeling that encourages you to do the same thing to others.”

Peter arrived in Dedham from Beijing four years ago—a few months before starting his freshman orientation at CM.

Ms. Cassandra Akouri, the Fine Arts Department Chair at CM, played a huge role in helping Peter feel at home. Peter met Ms. Akouri in her freshman drawing class. Over the next few years, Ms. Akouri would encourage Peter to explore poetry slams, additional drawing classes, and theater productions with his classmates.

Akouri said Peter’s talent sets him apart from his peers.

“He has a clear affinity for assessing darks and lights in an image and has the ability to realistically render a portrait,” she said.

Thanks to Ms. Akouri, Peter developed a newfound sense of confidence. He joined the Speech and Debate Team, participated in the poetry club on a regular basis, and even performed in his first spring musical soon after.

In art class, Ms. Akouri watched Peter grow through his artwork.

“Peter is someone who puts his whole hart into a task and sees it through,” said Akouri.

“He had always been dedicated to improving his skill sets. I am always proud of his accomplishments and know that he will do even greater things moving forward.”

On Saturday, March 14, Peter will receive recognition for his hard work at Massachusetts Scholastic Art & Writing Awards regional awards celebration.

Hosted at Tufts University, the celebration will honor Peter’s two silver medal submissions—a fitting way to end his senior year at CM.

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Catholic Memorial, the Christian Brothers School of Boston, prepares boys for college, manhood and a world full of unknown challenges, ambiguity and complex problems and the importance of relationships.

CATHOLIC MEMORIAL SCHOOL

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West Roxbury, Massachusetts 02132
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