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WMCAT teen headed to Carnegie Hall to receive award

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Jason Burley is headed to Carnegie Hall to receive a national Silver Key for his photography from Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
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WMCAT provides a culture of opportunity for people to make social and economic progress in their lives and community. This is done through two programs: Teen Arts and Adult Career Training in medical technology fields.

/"Dangle" by Jason Bursley

WMCAT Teen Artist Jason Bursley won a national Silver Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for photography. Bursley, his mom Erin Bursley and WMCAT staff are traveling to New York City in May so Jason Bursley can receive his award in person at Carnegie Hall. His award-winning photograph “Dangle” was taken during ArtPrize 2012.

Jason Bursley, who is a senior at Creston High School, has spent four years at WMCAT, enthusiastically tackling everything from photography to t-shirt design and sneaker design.

“Everyone at WMCAT is so excited for Jason,” said Kim Dabbs, executive director of WMCAT. “We have enjoyed watching him grow through the arts these past four years. To see him recognized at Carnegie Hall is such a capstone to the program and a testament to the impact WMCAT has on young people in our community.”

Jason Bursley is the only Grand Rapids Public Schools student to receive a national Scholastic Art and Writing Award this year.

“We are so proud of Jason's accomplishment!” says Teresa Weatherall Neal, superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools. “He truly exemplifies the students we proudly serve at GRPS. Congratulations and thank you to WMCAT for your quality after school program and valued partnership with our schools. Now more than ever, we need the public and our elected officials to take note of quality after school programs like WMCAT and ensure that the necessary funding and support continues.”

As a student with high functioning autism, Jason Bursley and his mother Erin Bursley say WMCAT has helped him develop his voice through art.

 “His way to communicate is through his art,” says Erin Bursley. “I just think WMCAT has done so much for him. Everyone here is so nice and has helped him. I mean he’s come a long way. I would encourage any kid, even if they’re not sure about it going in to art- they should at least try it. Everyone who goes here; all the kids are wonderful. They’re sweet, they’re kind and they seem to have a blast.”

Jason Bursley adds, “You can easily make some awesome friends here, just like I have.”

Photography is Jason Bursley’s passion. He is hoping to attend Kendall College of Art and Design in the fall to study photography and see where it can take him.

For more information on how you can invest in opportunity and support teen artists like Jason Bursley, visit

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