January 2021 VAPA SOM Winners

Arts Council Napa Valley Announces January Visual & Performing Arts Student of the Month Winners

January 29, 2021 (Napa, CA) —  Arts Council Napa Valley recognizes eleven students from Calistoga to American Canyon for excellence in the arts. Despite the inability to meet in person for most of our Napa Valley Students, young artists continue to inspire with their talent and dedication. Each student, without exception, was singled out by their teacher for “going beyond,” “always showing up,” and most importantly, “inspiring others.” ACNV judges agreed two studio art students at the high school, and middle/elementary levels were deserving of honor, resulting in two ties in that category. Other students were recognized for excellence in choir, theater, digital media, instrumental music, and dance.  

Since its inception, Arts Council Napa Valley  Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Student of the Month initiative has honored over a hundred students and awarded scholarships to a dozen. ACNV is currently seeking nominees for February. 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 January’s winners:

High School Level Winners

Studio Art: Alexa Cazares, Calistoga High Senior (Tie)

Whether it is painting abstractly or rendering realistic pen drawings, her teacher, Tyrone Sorrentino, said, “Alexa’s enthusiasm and passion for creating shine through to inspire others.”  He recognized her for her exceptional dedication and disciplined work ethic. Sorrentino is equally impressed with her learning approach, which drives her to discover new ways to express herself.

Studio Art: Emma Katherine Tada, Justin-Siena High Senior (Tie)

Art teacher Monica Jacobson recognized Tada for “Her passion and commitment to visual arts, along with her desire to explore and dedicate herself to learn and refine her personal voice.”  Jacobson is also impressed with her AP Art student’s ability to offer insightful observations during peer review. Tada is also involved in visual art outside of the art classroom, as a member of the National Art Honor Society along with being a contributing artist to the Memory Project, and a jury selection recipient for the Napa Valley Museum Yountville student exhibit of 2020.

Choir: Ashley Hall, Vintage High Senior

Hall, the current co-president of all of the Vintage choirs, was instrumental in producing Vintage Goes Virtual, the high school’s winter performance accessible on YouTube. Musical Director Mark Teeters recognized Hall for managing every aspect of the presentation–piecing together videos, creating a storyboard, gathering introductions from fellow officers, and making each segment into a cohesive concert. Teeters said, “I’m very proud of her and grateful for her effort on a project that was new to us during a time that seemed somewhat hopeless for our art form.” He added, “Her personal and musical leadership is invaluable.” Hall has been a member of three Vintage Choirs for four years.

Theater: Gabriel DuBois, Cafeteria Kids/St. Helena High Sophomore

Olivia Cowell and Aimée Guillot, directors of Cafeteria Kids Theater, recognized DuBois for his acting chops and his ability to rise to the challenge of producing musicals over Zoom now that all classes are virtual. DuBois assisted with audio editing, recording, recording students, and downloading and organizing files. Cowell/Guillot said, “We were continually impressed with how much he handled in addition to his responsibilities as an intern and actor.” 

Digital Media: Eric Toscano, New Technology High Junior

Toscano has taken on a leadership position this year in Digital Design Lab. Teacher Lisa Gottfried recognized him for his exceptional skill and artistic style. She said, “He’s ready to begin a career in Graphic Design now! His aesthetics are sophisticated.  He always participates in class, even over Zoom. He’s calm, cool, and stable.” She is equally impressed with his willingness to offer technical assistance to others. 

Dance: Angela Aguilar-Andrade, Vintage High Senior

Aguilar-Andrade is attending school in person, and even though she is unable to perform right now, her teacher Lisa Sullivan said, “She comes to class every day with a brilliant smile on her face and works as if she were taking the stage tomorrow.” Sullivan added that the fourth-year dance student is an inspiration to her peers, offering assistance with kindness. She continues to grow technically and academically despite our current challenges.

Middle & Elementary Level Winners

Studio Art: Morgan Santiago, American Canyon Middle School, 7th Grade (Tie)  

Santiago is a prolific young artist, devoting hours of time beyond the classroom assignments to express herself in various mediums. Her teacher Jenifer Leahy recognized Santiago for pushing herself to do her best. “You can tell she has a deep passion for art in her life.  It emanates through her work.” 

Studio Art: Giada Parise, River Middle School, 6th Grade (Tie)

Parise is an impressive student with a strong personal drive to learn. Her teacher Hollie Hardwick said, “She has not only produced very skilled 2D works of art, but she has also participated in the Zoom portion of class with enthusiasm, humor, and leadership.” Parise recently led fellow students through a live art activity on Zoom, where her confidence and natural friendliness shone as bright as her drawing activity.  Hardwick said, “It is evident that Parise enjoys all aspects of school, is making the best of difficult times, and has strong artistic skills and a creative outlook which makes her stand out in the Visual Arts program.”

Choir: Maia Medalle, American Canyon Middle School, 7th Grade

Music teacher Deb Walden recognized Medalle for her enthusiasm despite the challenges facing choir programs this year. Walden said, “Maia is always willing to speak up during Zoom classes, answering questions, giving her opinion when asked, and letting me know if something in our virtual class isn’t working correctly.” Medalle is consistent in turning in all her assignments and repeatedly does exceptional work.  Walden points out many things are missing this year, “no live rehearsals, no singing in person with a community of friends, no performances, no festivals, no Choir trips.” Yet Medalle, Walden said, “Continues to bring a sense of hope and community to each Zoom class. She is always supporting me as her teacher and supporting us as a choir.”

Instrumental: Elisa Flaviano, River Middle School, 7th Grade

Flaviano has not let distanced learning slow her down. During this time, her teacher Nicole Birkland-Long said, “She takes the initiative and finds music that she wants to learn and play outside of class.” Birkland-Long has also recognized her for helping others, especially during Hybrid Instruction.  

Digital Media: Yaretzi Anguiano, Phillips Magnet School, 2nd Grade

Teacher Sheri Blades said Anguiano is creative and thoughtful. “Without prompting or having a required assignment, she chooses to experiment and learn tools in Seesaw.” Anguiano is improving her skills with drawing tools including a stylus.  Blades added, “Yaretzi is one of the few students who have realized the potential of the program beyond just teacher-assigned activities. Her drawings and video messages brighten my day regularly.” 

ACNV is currently reaching out to teachers throughout the county seeking nominees for February 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 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, February 21, 2021.