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February 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 is privileged to award the following teachers and students. Nine students are recognized as Visual and Performing Arts Student of the Month (SOM) winners for February. Four students tied in two different categories– Studio Arts & Band. ACNVEA SOM annual awards initiative seeks nominees monthly, culminating in a scholarship ceremony at the school year-end.

We are now accepting nominations for March ACNVEA SOM from College, High School, Middle School, and Elementary level 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 25th of every month.

Here are February winners:

High School Level Winners

Studio Art (TIE): Litong (Asteria) Liu, Justin Sienna High School Junior

Asteria uses art to feel purpose and comfort as she explores her feelings of anxiety and confidence as a study abroad student from China here in Napa.  Her artwork concerns the complexities of materialism as it relates to self-worth. As a naturally gifted artist, her teacher Aleta Andrews says that Asteria is actively pursuing a future in Art as a career and says, “I have seen tremendous growth in her personality and art, which is an amazing thing to witness in a student.”

Studio Art (TIE): Fatima Romero-Munoz, Vintage High School Senior

AP Studio Art student, Fatima Romero-Munoz, has shown tremendous growth both technically and conceptually as an artist. With a fascination in psychology, her work investigates the oddity of human behavior.  She paints based on photos (both posed and candid) “telling stories of a variety of students and their personal experiences (positive, negative and sometimes bizarre) with school bathrooms,” explains her teacher of 4 years, Crystal Clark. Clark also describes Fatima as a compassionate person and bright student who currently holds the position of treasurer for the VHS Art Club, is an active member of the Spanish Club, and is a sprinter on the Track and Field team.

Theater Arts: Kalise Espiritu,
American Canyon High School Senior

Kalise Espiritu has worked through her “very shy and quiet nature” in the last four years in Summer Heartt’s Theater program to become one of its strongest, most talented members through a “ drive simmering quietly under her sweet disposition. “  She has most recently played french maid Yvette in ACHS’s production of Clue On Stage and will be Rona in their spring musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She has worked as both an actor and designer for the school’s productions and gives 100% of herself regardless of her role. These qualities make her a great role model to the underclassman in the program.  Heartt finishes by saying, “I am most taken with Kalise’s ability to surprise me…She thinks deeply, is constantly improving, and is hungry for opportunities to learn.” We wish her luck as she moves on to CalState Northridge to continue her studies in Theater Arts.

Digital Arts: Nadia Sousa, Justin Siena High Freshman

Nadia exhibits a strong grasp of conceptual visual understanding as an illustrator and artist, even as a freshman. Her hard work and general scholarly nature have amazed her teacher Monica Jacobson. Jacobson says this kind human is also “quick to understand complex problem solving,” while  “producing thoughtful work which engages the viewer.” This creative student’s work is sure to grow.

Middle & Elementary Level Winners

Digital: Oliver Sto Domingo, American Canyon Middle School 8th Grade   

While Oliver is recognized for their Digital art, teacher Jenifer Leahy points out that they are just as talented with pencil, colored pencil,  and acrylic paint. It is rare when a Middle School teacher gets to see a student grow creatively for all three years. Still, Leahy says Oliver has exhibited “a calm [and] quiet nature, but a colorful one,” with a strong desire to “stand up for others’ rights, especially in the LGBTQ+ community.” They draw their inspiration from music lyrics and encouragement from friends.

Studio Arts: Claire Hayashi, Silverado Middle School 7th Grade

Claire’s artwork has a clean, graceful style that grows increasingly complex and precise with every new piece. Her teacher Julia Zmed, who has had the pleasure of watching Claire’s artistic abilities blossom, describes Hayashi as a “quiet, but determined artist with admirable focus.”  Claire challenges herself by “always choosing to go way beyond the extra mile.” She is also a bright and driven student and an accomplished swimmer.

Band/Orchestra (TIE): Annabel Vivanco, Silverado Middle School, 8th Grade 

Annabel’s passion for playing Cello in SMS Orchestra for the past three years has genuinely impressed her teacher Brian Beggs. Annabel is a leader in her classroom as a positive force willing to help and encourage others. Beggs says Annabel “is a strong cello player and also shows great listening skills. Annabel willingly accepts challenges and is eager to learn new and difficult music.”

Band/Orchestra: Zachary Alim-Quenga,
American Canyon Middle School 8th Grade 

Zachary has been a percussionist at ACMS for the past three years and “excels on snare drum and mallets,” says his teacher Deborah Walden. As a section leader, he has helped the other percussionists learn their part and become better at their craft. Walden describes Zackary as a “confident, kind, and patient” student who is well respected by his peers.  This incredibly responsible and considerate student has admirably transported all percussion equipment to and from the parking lot during Covid restricted rehearsals. “Having a responsible student like Zachary has been a huge help to me. I am very thankful,” finishes Walden.

Studio Art: Katherine Torres, Phillips 5th Grade   

Katherine is a diligent and thoughtful artist, continuously improving her techniques and creating unique work. Artist Alma Thomas inspires the project shown for Black History Month and Valentine’s Day.  After watching videos of Thomas’ work, she came up with her own “love” inspired creation. Her teacher Jen Veveiros says,” Katherine, like Thomas, sees the world as colorful and bright, even during troubling times like the Pandemic.”