2022-23 VAPA Students of the Year

Arts Council Napa Valley Names Visual and Performing Arts Student of the Year for 2022/23

Twenty-Six Students Receive Scholarships

Photo Credit: Aperture Media + Design

The Arts Council Napa Valley (ACNV)  celebrated its visual and performing arts Scholarship winners with over $14,000 in scholarships through seven different categories–Performing Arts Student of the Year,  Visual Arts Student of the Year, VAPA Art Activism Award College Distinction, Highschool distinction (VAPA Multi-Hyphen, Vocal, Instrumental, Dance, Digital, 3D, Studio, Film & Photography, Theater Production, Theater Acting) ), Middle School Distinction (Visual & Performing Overall, VAPA Multi-hyphen, Instrumental, Theater, Studio), and Elementary Distinction (Band, Visual Overall, Studio, Vapa Multi-hyphen). The recipients were selected from nearly 100 Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Student of the Month winners. The 2021/22 school year was the third year for the program, which sought nominations from art educators from all over Napa Valley and marked the first in-person award celebration. Thanks to generous donations from Festival Napa Valley, Napa Valley Community Foundation, The Johnny Miller Champ Foundation, and community donors, ACNV has nearly quadrupled our scholarship fund since its inception in 2020. 

“I look forward to these awards every year,” said Chris DeNatale, ACNV Executive Director. He added, “It is so exciting to see and recognize the talented students across all genres of the Visual and Performing arts community here in Napa County.” 

The program will resume with the new school year, once again seeking nominations from art educators from all over the county, including public and private schools and homeschooled College aged to K-12 students.

ACNV Visual Arts Student of the Year

Tree Nystrom, New Tech High School Senior

Arts Council Napa Valley’s Visual Arts Student of the Year Tree Nystrom “is an amazing and motivated artist,” says teacher Sarah Brown. Nystrom is described as the type of student who never stops creating, constantly trying new things, and pushing through any obstacles that get in their way. Specifically, Brown says Nystrom has pushed through profound personal circumstances to become the artist and the amazing person they are today. 

Citing artists Vincent Van Gough and Bisa Butler along with Grateful Dead album covers as part of their inspiration, Nystrom says they, “Just go for it!”  Nystom bursting artistic skills can be executed in multiple mediums, but painting remains their favorite. 

Along with all of their artistic endeavors, Nystrom is an excellent student academically (even taking College Courses) and holds a job outside of school to make money for supplies and their future education. Nystrom was accepted to and will attend Sonoma State to major in Art in the Fall.

Sarah Brown finishes by saying, “Tree’s dedication to making work is far beyond that of the average advanced art student. She deserves everything that has come to her and so much more.”

Festival Napa Valley & ACNV Performing Arts Student of the Year

Levi Ruben, Vintage High School Senior

Teacher Brendan Galvin struggles to describe the “sheer amount that Levi Rubin has done for the Vintage High School Instrumental Music program.”   He cites his endless selfless actions to help others as much as his drive to perfect his own art form: “He quickly became one of the most hard-working students that the program has ever seen.”

While Galvin and many more described Ruben as a wunderkind, he punctuates that this belittles the breadth of his determination and ambition for “unparalleled musicianship in a variety of genres, his perseverance, problem-solving, creativity, reflection, experimentation, follow through, drive, resourcefulness, resilient, and self-reliance.”

Galvin finishes with a reflection on Ruben’s abilities to connect and uplift his fellow musicians:

“Levi can be found quietly bringing out the best in others. After school, he will sit and play with a struggling student. You can watch them laugh and make repeated attempts at a lick; all the while, the student Levi works with opens up, plays better, and walks away with more confidence in their playing and themselves. It is a beautiful thing to watch. Levi is an inspiration to his peers and myself.”

Ruben excelled academically at Vintage High School, all while majoring in drum, but was also the principal horn and lead alto in jazz band. Levi plans to attend UC Irvine, majoring in Jazz Performance on Saxophone.

Distinction Art Activist Awards

Justin Siena High School Senior Roman Topete

(teacher: Aleta Andrews)

Sponsored by ACNV & Johnny Miller Champ Foundation (JMCF)

College Distinction Awards

Napa Valley College Freshman
Anika Bryanne Sevilla

(teacher: May Jong)

ACNV & JMCF & Napa Valley Community Fund (NVCF) Distinction Digital

High School Distinction Awards

American Canyon High School Senior
Justin Macaraeg

(teacher: Jamie Butler)

Festival Napa Valley (FNV) Distinction Multi-Hyphen

Vintage High School Senior
Raquel Howle

(teacher: Liz Amendola)

FNV Distinction Vocal

American Canyon High  School Senior
Nigel Quirk

(teacher: Brendan Day)

FNV Distinction Instrumental

Vintage  School Senior
Vienne Lynch

(teacher: Lisa Sullivan)

FNV  Distinction Dance

Vintage High School Senior
Kai Small

(teacher: Crystal Clark)

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction Digital

American Canyon High School Senior
Melody Romero

(teacher: Adam Musto)

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction 3D

St. Helena High School Senior/Oxbow Semester Student Karley Martin

(teachers: Silvia Seyve/Andrea Antonaccio Wagner)

Image is an example of Karley’s artwork.

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction Studio (TIE)

Valley Oak High School Senior
Ella Gray

(teacher: Evrim Cakir)

Image is an example of Ella’s artwork.

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction Studio (TIE)

New Tech High School Junior
Lourdes Lopez

(teacher: Lisa Gottfried)

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction Film & Photography

American Canyon High School Senior
Lillie Pace

(teacher: Summer Heartt)

FNV Distinction Theater Production

St. Helena High School Senior Gabriel DuBois

(teacher: Patricia Coyle)

FNV Distinction Theater Acting (TIE)

Napa High School
Favian Toscano

(teacher: Patty Profitt)

FNV Distinction Theater Acting (TIE)

 Middle School Distinction Awards

Redwood Middle School 8th grader Jose Crespo

(teacher: Kortney Ray)

FNV Distinction Performing Overall

American Canyon Middle School 8th grader
Vinx Martinez-Diaz

(teacher: Scott Azevedo)

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction Visual Overall

St. Johns Lutheran 8th grader Abigail Johnson

(teacher: Sandra Cassayre)

Image is an example of Abigail’s artwork.

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction VAPA Multi-Hyphen

Silverado Middle School 8th grader Skylar Waite

(teacher: Brian Beggs)

FNV Distinction Instrumental

Silverado Middle School 8th grader Anna Tompkins

(teacher: Brian Beggs)

FNV Distinction Theater

Silverado Middle School 8th grader Yesenia Martinez

(teacher: Julia Zmed)

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction Studio

Elementary Distinctions Awards

Bel Aire Elementary School 5th grader
Jonathan Ruelas 

(teachers: Tere Charney [art] &  Kim Title [classroom])

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction Visual Overall

Alto Heights Elementary 5th grader Michael Smith

(teachers: Cody Alves [music] & Leslie Gracia [classroom])

FNV Distinction Instrumental Overall

Vichy Elementary 5th grader Miranda Dominguez

(teacher: Sara Lynne Johnson)

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction Multi-Hyphen

Phillips Magnet School 5th grader Itza Nol Ortiz

(teacher: Jennifer Veveiros)

ACNV & JMCF & NVCF Distinction Studio

About Arts Council Napa Valley

Left to right: Lisa Sullivan (Ed Alliance Co-Coordinator), Julia Zmed (Ed Alliance Co-Coordinator), Chris DeNatale (Executive Director), Crysta Tim (Programs & Admin Manager)

As the official local arts agency in Napa County, Arts Council Napa Valley connects, advocates, and leads the arts community countywide. Since 1981 the Arts Council has served to benefit all residents with a more sustainable, accessible, and quality local arts scene.  Since the adoption of the Napa County Cultural Plan in 

2009, it organized policy initiatives like the City of Napa Percent for Art Ordinance. The Arts Council also offers programs and support, like the Napa Valley Creative Directory, ACNV Community Fund, and VAPA Student of the Month program to empower the industry through education, information, and resources.