Suburban Virginia high school students were among the 20 winners of the cash prizes in High School Graphics V, a biennial competition for young printmakers sponsored by the National Collection of Fine Arts and the Washington Print Club.

The awards were presented this week at the museum, where more than 150 prints by artists from local high schools are being exhibited.

Also honored as "people who have contributed to print making and art history," were Adelyn Breeskin, an NCFA consultant for 20th century painting and sculpture, and James Wells, a Howard University professor emeritus and an active printmaker.

The show, at NCFA through June 12, is unusual because it is composed entirely of work by young artists and because the students themselves played a large part in planning it.

Theresa Grana, associate curator for secondary education at NCFA, said the exhibition, part of the museum's Discover Graphics program, "comes out of the museum's interest in promoting printmaking in schools."

"Many kids have different place to show - the Hetch company and poster contests - but we feel kids need a career emphasis," Grana said. "We have kids working on various committees, a few students working on actual design . . . planning the exhibit even down to the title of the show."

The poster design for the show was done by Mariko Kawaguchi of Duke Ellington High School and Rob Evans fron Wlater Johnson High School.

"Wow!" was all Laurie Newman, 17, a senior from Chantilly Secondary School could say after winning a Director's award for her linoleum cut "Natalie," and a Fendrick Gallery award for her silkscreen, "Pay Phone." Each prize was $25.

"I never won this much money," Newman said. "I need it for college, so it's going right into my savings account."

The NCFA's 6-year-old Discover Grapnics program is conducted through local high school art departments. During the school year, teachers select students to go to the museum for four 6-hour sessions of printmaking techniques and tours.

Discover Graphics also conduct an outreach program in which etching press and materials are circulated emong area high schools. Museum art apprentices also visit the schools and give lectures and demonstrations.

"This is where I learned printmaking and I haven't been able to stop. it's really habit-forming," said Joyce Kubalak, 17, a West Springfield High School senior.

Kubalak's silkscreen, "Mr. Smithson's Castle," won second prize of $50 in the competition. The silkscreen was presented to Adelyn Breeskin.

After the awards ceremony, students involved in the Discover Graphics program conducted a demonstration of printmaking for some of the more than 100 persons who attended.

Prizes for the competition were provided by the Washington Print Club and several local galleries. prizes amounts were $75 for the first place, $50 for second place, $25 for third place and $25 for special prizes.

Among the persons presenting the awards were Darryl Rubenstein, president of the Washington Print Club, Harry Lunn of the Lunn Gallery and Chris Middendorf of the Middendorf Gallery.

Other Virginia winners were Ann Shusta, 17, Chantilly High Secondary School; Tammy Eatep, 17, Oakton High School; Christine Parchen, 17, Langley High School; Ian McGill, 19, West Springfield High School, and Caron Broadway, 16, West Springfield High School.