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April 2022 VAPA Students of the Month

Napa Educators Recognize Arts Students for Excellence Qualifying them for ACNVEA Scholarships

The Arts Council Napa Valley Education Alliance (ACNVEA) is privileged to award the following teachers and students. Ten students are recognized as Visual and Performing Arts Student of the Month (SOM) winners for April. ACNVEA SOM annual awards initiative seeks nominees monthly, culminating in a scholarship ceremony that will take place at the di Rosa Preserve on June 8th, 2022. 

We are now accepting final nominations for the 21/22 School Year, specifically for the month of May, at the College, High School, Middle School, and Elementary levels from visual and performing arts teachers throughout the county. Please go to the Arts Council Napa Valley website for more information and access to the nomination form. Nominations are due by the 20th of this month. 

Please visit our Facebook Page to see more images of our SOM’s work. If you’d like to support this year’s Student of the Year ceremony, please consider donating toward the event at our website: ArtsCouncilNV.Org/Donations.

Here are April’s winners:

High School Level Winners

Studio Art: Heidy Sanchez, Palisades Junior

Heidy is a creative and driven human who, despite many challenges, continues to impress her teacher Margaret Dennett with her artwork and spirit. Heidy prefers painting, and with her skill set and positive attitude, she works on her body of art and helps with many community projects, such as the Salmon Restoration Project. Dennett says Heidy “is committed to success in school, her future, and her art.” As a junior, it is exciting to see the work she will be creating next year- as her skills will sharpen and work will become more expansive!

3D Art: Andrew Avina-Avina, Napa High School Senior

While Andrew may be new to 3-D arts (as this is his first year), “he has taken an open-minded approach to developing his style and method” says his teacher Melinda Miller. Miller’s favorite of his works is his Chinese New Year lantern, built as both an object and a symbol: he combined a water symbol with a fire bridge roof “to create a water well of light to draw upon for the future,” says Miller. His work is both technically excellent and thoughtful.

Theater Arts (TIE): Kaitlyn Valenzuela,
St. Helena High School Senior

Kaitlyn has been an integral part of the St. Helena Drama department since the 7th when cast in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Through the years, she has worked her way up from small parts to her first beautifully performed leading role as Morticia in “The Addams Family” this year as a senior. There is no such thing as a “small role” for Kaitlyn, as she always pushes herself creatively and professionally. In addition, Patricia Coyle, Kaitlyn’s teacher, explains that she is also in AP Visual Arts and has been a member of the SHHS Band program all four years, declaring her a “well-rounded and exceptional Arts student!”

Theater Arts (TIE): Mya Oro,
Justin Siena School Sophomore & Cafeteria Kids 

While Mya attends Justin Siena as a senior, Olivia Cowell and Aimée Guillot, Executive Directors of Cafeteria Kids (CK) Theater, wanted to shine a light on her: “She has impressed us time and again with her professionalism, maturity, and self-motivation.” Mya has been with CK for five years as an actor, and intern in the drama camps, productions, and workshops. As an intern, Guillot & Cowell say, Mya uses her “intuition, compassion and training to deftly handle all situations which arise” in the complex, emotionally charged work of acting. She is dependable, intelligent, kind and generous of spirit, goal-oriented, a good communicator and collaborator, dedicated, organized, and good-humored.

Choir: Marielle Manio, American Canyon High Senior

Teacher Jamie Butler describes Marielle as an inspiration to her peers and to him. He describes last year’s hybrid teaching as a “difficult stretch” that was brighter with the dedication, kindness, and positivity of Marielle. Regardless of circumstance, she gives 110%, showcasing her “incredibly talented voice and a great understanding of music” and her leadership skills. Butler finishes by saying: “Seeing how much she loved to sing and how important music was to her inspired me to keep going. I’ll never forget Marielle’s love for singing. I’m so proud of her and lucky to be her teacher. “

Middle & Elementary Level Winners

Studio Arts (TIE): Adrian Ducut, American Canyon Middle School 8th Grade

Jenifer Leahy has been fortunate to have Adrian as a student for all 3 of his middle school years. During this time, his growth in creativity and skill has blossomed into mood-driven works of art- each telling a different story with various materials. “I’m very impressed with his skill set,” says Leahy, “Adrian is a pleasure to have in class.”

Studio Arts (TIE): Malina Viruet, Silverado Middle School 7th Grade

Malina is a meditative and thoughtful artist who works diligently to hone her skill set in all art mediums. With her quiet confidence, Malina challenges herself by taking on challenging subjects. “Frustration never slows her,” says her teacher Julia Zmed, “But motivates her to figure out the solution and move forward with grace, persistence, and inevitable growth.”

Studio Art (TIE): Mauricio De Haro De Reza, Bel Aire Park Magnet School 4th Grade

Tere Charney, Mauricio’s art teacher, is in awe of this young talent. He is focused and creative beyond his years with “artistic ability and lovely humility.” His work is always carefully composed, with a bold, imaginative flair. We all look forward to seeing this young man’s growth in the future!

Performance/Digital Art : Maria Silva Nascimento,
Phillips Magnet 5th Grade 

Teacher Jennifer Veveiros explains that after reading multiple texts (both positive and negative) about the American Experience, Maria wrote a poem describing her perspective of America. She dedicates it “to all the people who are not given freedom in our country, including immigrants, women, people with disabilities, and people of color.” With a powerful performance and beautiful slide show, Maria expressed her hope for change in our country. Veveiros finishes by saying Maria is “such a leader that one day I am sure she will help make that change!”

Studio Art (TIE): Mario Garcia Mendoza, Phillips Magnet 4th Grade   

After learning about the surrealist artist Rene Magritte, Mario completed his project with “care… while also incorporating the artistic techniques of perspective, shading, balance, and blending with the art medium of pastels,” says teacher Shauna Kadel. His personality always shines through in whatever he creates!