Vintage Student Wins TWO Awards for Excellence in the Arts 

January 5, 2020 (Napa, CA) —  For the first time, the Arts Council Napa Valley is recognizing one student with TWO awards for excellence in the arts. Vintage High Senior Lexi Sario will receive the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Student of the Month Award for Studio Art and Digital Media for December.  

ACNV Executive Director Chris DeNatale, who has overseen the student art recognition program since its inception in fall of 2019, said, “When we received Sario’s beautifully designed website, it was clear she was deserving of special recognition. Whether working digitally or with a brush, her pieces convey deep emotions. She’s obviously a thoughtful, engaged student, who has been honing her talent for years.”

Seven students are being honored for excellence in the disciplines of music, theater, visual and digital arts for the month of December. These final awards for 2020 close out a year that will be remembered for its devastating impact on the arts. “Despite the challenges–the inability to perform before a live audience, the limited access to art supplies for students at home, the online audio delays making it hard to collaborate musically–our VAPA teachers have not given up,” DeNatale said.  “They’ve innovated and persevere despite the odds. We see their tireless effort in the creative outcomes of their students, our next generation of artists.”  

ACNVEA is currently seeking nominees for January. Please go to the Arts Council Napa Valley Website to learn more about the program and access the Call for Nominees Entry Form

Here are December’s winners:

High School Level Winners

Digital Media  & Studio Arts: Lexi Sario, Vintage High Senior  

Sario has shown extraordinary talent and determination in two art disciplines during her four years studying with teachers Crystal Clark (Studio) and JP Castillo (Digital). She is diligently working on her second AP Art Portfolio, completing one in drawing as a junior and currently adding finishing touches to one for digital design.  While at Harvest Middle School, she was selected as a finalist in the Disney Animation Film Festival. 

As for her future, Sario said, “My mind is deadset on pursuing the animation industry and landing myself in an animation studio (i.e Pixar, Disney, Titmouse, etc.). I would like to land into a position involving drawing, including 2D animator, storyboard artist, character artist, and the like.” She hopes to one day have her own cartoon in production.  Nothing seems out of reach for this extraordinary young artist who plans on studying at a major art institute after two years at Napa Valley College. 

Theater: Abigail Thurman, American Canyon High Sophomore

Thurman has not allowed distanced learning, and the inability to perform in a theater, slow her down. Drama Teacher Summer Heartt said she has been a “joyful and active” participant in Zoom and in-person classes. Inspired by the Lord of the Flies reading assignment in her English class, Thurman created seven character drawings of the boys on the island, Heartt said, “just for fun!” Thurman is currently working on an online cooking show.  Heartt is impressed with her planning and thoughtfulness and says it shows “real promise.”

Choir: Alexi Cabanez, American Canyon High School Senior

Music Teacher Jamie Butler said, “Alexi is one of the most talented altos I’ve taught in my 20 years!”  He added, “She has a vocal range and a musicality that is rarely seen in high school students.” Asking deep questions in rehearsal, Cabanez is always seeking to make her performances more meaningful to herself and the audience.  Butler has been particularly impressed with how she has adapted to online learning. “Even though Alexi has gone through some difficult times (being an extrovert!) during this distance learning, she still manages to keep our zoom rehearsals laughing and never ceases to lighten the mood!”   

Middle & Elementary Level Winners

Choir: Milly Kane, River Middle School, 7th Grade  

Her music teacher Michael Rothbart recognized Kane for always going above and beyond with everything she does. He said, “She is always willing to be helpful to me as well as her peers, and is an exceptional student.” 

Studio Arts: Joshua Cleveland, Northwood Elementary, 4th Grade

Art teacher Aimee Reed-Heidenreich recognized Cleveland for his talent and creativity.  “He puts in 100%, and it shows in his art,” she said.  Northwood’s art program is entirely remote this year, which has not stopped Cleveland. Reed-Heidenreich said, “Every week Joshua turns in his art project, and you can see he is having fun while creating his art!”

Digital Media: Tuong-An Angelina Vo, Donaldson Way, 2nd Grade

Vo has an exceptional talent for making anything look beautiful–even average assignments. Her teacher Jona Sandau says, “She tends to show an exceptional understanding of color and design and adds this talent to classmates’ digital birthday cards, and even math or spelling assignments.”  Sandau adds, “Angelina creates her own beauty where there is none, and adds a surprise for others to enjoy. She is my very unique student and deserves to have this talent recognized so that she will know how much others appreciate her.”

Instrumental: Maddie Chiu, Silverado Middle School, 8th Grade

Chiu is an accomplished musician, playing flute in the school band and violin as a  Napa Valley Youth Symphony member. Her teacher Brian Beggs says, besides diligently turning in work and coming to class prepared,  “Maddie also shows great appreciation for music of many different genres and can clearly describe aesthetic and technical elements in the music she listens to.” He adds Chiu has a positive attitude and collaborative spirit, always ready to help others.

ACNVEA is currently reaching out to teachers throughout the county seeking nominees for January 2021.  All winners will be recognized with a certificate and invited to an award and scholarship ceremony in the spring. If you know someone, a teacher, or a student who deserves recognition, please direct them to the ACNV or ACNVEA websites for full details, including the Call for Nominees document. Only teachers and educators can nominate students for recognition. Nominations for January are due by 5:00 PM, January 22, 2021.