May & June 2023 VAPA Students of the Month

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

May 25, 2023 (Napa, CA) —The Arts Council Napa Valley (ACNV) is privileged to award the following teachers and students. Twenty-Four students are recognized as May and June’s Visual and Performing Arts Student of the Month (SOM) winners. ACNV SOM annual awards initiative seeks nominees monthly, culminating in a scholarship ceremony. 

These were the last two months of nominations for the 22/23 school year. This year, after accepting a record-breaking number of nominations (over 160) from College, High School, Middle School, and Elementary level students from the county’s visual and performing arts teachers, ACNV will choose 20+ Student of the Year Scholarship recipients and celebrate them on Wednesday, June 7th, at the Napa Valley Community College Performing Arts Center, where over $12,000 worth of scholarships will be awarded.

Please visit our Facebook page for 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: ArtsCouncilNapaValley.Org/Donations.

Here are May and June’s winners:

College Level Winners

Digital Art Award: Erik Martinez, Napa Valley Community College, Freshman 

Teacher May Jong writes this about Erik:

​​Erik is a creative student who also mentors others. He stands out, not only because of his unique style and vision, but also because he is a caring individual. He is quick to help classmates succeed in class. Erik worked hard in online art classes overcoming many obstacles during the time I have known him. I have also had the pleasure of instructing Erik in person. I am impressed by how much he has grown over the years.

High School Level Winners

Visual Art Award (May Tie): Trinity Nystrom, New Tech High School, Senior

Teacher Sarah Brown writes this about Trinity:

Trinity is an amazing and motivated artist. They are constantly trying new things and pushing themselves while cultivating their own distinct style of art. Layers and layers of colors and distortions are central to this artist’s work.  Trinity’s dedication to making work is far beyond what the average advanced art student is doing. In addition, they are decorating a life size fiberglass cow in my room. They cite Van Gough, Bisa Butler, and Grateful Dead album covers as part of their inspiration. Trinity, in their own words, “just goes for it.” and “it” is amazing. Trinity is going to be majoring in art at Sonoma State, and I am so excited to see how their work grows more.

Visual Art Award (May Tie): Hex Aman, Oxbow School, Junior

Teacher Chris Thorson writes this about Hex:

Hex also brings a love of experimentation and eco-friendly values to the art-making process.  Recently Hex experimented with creating watercolor paints from common local plants in order to create more sustainable and accessible art materials. Hex relates, “There’s also something about making my tools that just brings me joy… I wanted to make paint without having to buy material, but instead using things I could find in a backyard.” Hex created a series of beautiful botanical pigments and then made paintings from the pigments. Hex also demonstrated how to make and use the art materials so that others can create their own free and natural art materials.

Visual Art Award (June): Angelica Ochoa Alvarez, Valley Oak High School, Senior  

Teacher Evrim Cakir writes this about Angelica:

Angelica is one of the most naturally talented and hardworking art students with whom I have had the opportunity to work. Her skills of craftsmanship are highly developed, and she has an incredible attention to detail. She thrives off of the entire creative process, both the successes and the challenges. Angelica has been an outstanding student and is well prepared to move onto the college level.

Digital Art Award (May): Jamie Clary, New Tech High School, Sophomore 

Teacher Lisa Gottfried writes this about Jamiel:

Jamie is an artist who thinks deeply about her work and is impeccable in her execution. She takes feedback into account and pushes herself to deepen and improve her work. She is a solid member of our learning community and helps to elevate others in her class. She shines in Digital Painting and Drawing.

Digital Art Award (June): Khaya (Kai) Small, Vintage High School, Senior

Teacher Crystal Clark writes this about Kai:

Khaya successfully submitted a very strong AP portfolio this year that focused on building unique characters inspired by their love of webcomics. Kai works in traditional and digital mediums and has done well with both this year while exploring with new and unfamiliar materials and nontraditional work surfaces to further expand skills and knowledge with mixed media works of art. Their dedication to always delivering polished work for critiques and sticking with the intended inquiry was very impressive, as was seeing the process of character development and the narratives around them. Kai will be attending Napa Valley College this fall and is eventually hoping to transfer to CCA with a goal of getting into animation.

3D Art Award: Melody Romero, American Canyon High School, Junior  

Teacher Adam Musto writes this about Melody:

Melody, aka “Melo,” is a fantastic sculptor, innovator, illustrator and all around great art and ceramics student here at ACHS.  She arrives early and leaves late while working without ceasing!  She is a planner and a designer that is masterful in her relationship with the clay and glazes.  In one year, she has become an expert hand builder, and it is a shame that I won’t have the opportunity to see her grow into a skilled potter as she will be graduating and taking her tremendous creativity and dedication to the craft to college next year.  We celebrate Melody’s successes and wish her well in her artistic journey.

Band & Orchestra Award: Levi Rubin, Vintage High School, Senior 

Teacher Brendan Galvin writes this about Levi:

My efforts to catalog the sheer amount that Levi Rubin has done for the Vintage High School Instrumental Music program through his selfless actions to help others improve, chronicle his quest for personal improvement on the road of mastery in music, and characterize the resultant impact of his presence and influence in the program will fall short. As drum major, principal horn, and lead alto in jazz band Levi continually offers his peers generous, kind guidance, calm and collected leadership, and unbelievable musical consistency at a professional level. Beyond his beautiful and powerful performances, 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 is working with opens up, plays better, and walks away with more confidence in their playing and themselves. Levi is planning on attending UC Irvine, majoring in Jazz Performance on Saxophone.

Choir Award (May Tie): Kimberly Robinson, American Canyon High School, Senior 

Teacher Jamie Butler writes this about Kimberly:

Kimberly is an extremely talented and driven young woman who has been a leader in our choir program from her first day in 9th grade. She is heavily involved in clubs on campus and has taken numerous college classes online, where she will enter as a sophomore+ at UC Irvine in the fall. What I most appreciate about Kimberly is how she has taken the lead in doing research and presentations to the choir to help us better understand and perform several of our songs that have dealt with social justice. She is intelligent, well-spoken, and passionate about helping others which bodes well for her desired career in the medical field. Nothing will stop Kimberly Robinson, and I am excited to see where her bright future takes her!

Choir Award (May Tie): Raquel Howle, Vintage High School, Senior 

Teacher Liz Amendola writes this Raquel:

Raquel has embraced Choir at Vintage to a remarkable degree. She is one of the three co-presidents of the Choir. She has been heavily involved in assisting with activities such as our Homecoming Dance, Club Day on the quad, and helping manage students at dress rehearsals for our three large yearly concerts. She spends three out of her six periods a day in Choir classes. Two classes are advanced choirs–Chamber Singers and Vocal Music Workshop. The third class is Treble Choir, which is an entry-level choir. Here, Raquel acts as a role model and also manages and grades the written music theory work the students do in this class. In advancement of her aspirations to become a choir teacher, Raquel has been admitted into the Music Education program at Sonoma State University for the Fall of 2023.

Choir Award (June): Michael Ang, American Canyon High School, Senior 

Teacher Jamie Butler writes this MichaelMichael is one of the most humble and hardest-working students I have ever taught. He is a section leader in the choral program, has held numerous solos of the years, and is beloved by his peers. Michael has a work ethic and a passion for making everything better for others, that is very rare for someone of his age. He is kind and thoughtful and is always up for an adventure, whether it is helping others or trying out for a difficult solo! I am so proud of Michael and will miss not only his powerhouse voice but his powerhouse presence in the choir program!

Theater Acting Award (May Tie): Rhett Ryan, St. Helena High School, Junior

Teacher Patricia Coyle writes this about Rhett:

Rhett Ryan completely transforms himself into his roles. He has shaved his head, dyed his hair, and many more selfless acts (as a teenage boy) to immerse himself into his characters. From Fester in “The Addams Family,” to Monsieur Bouc in “Murder on the Orient Express,” to Ali Hakim in “Oklahoma,” Rhett is an extremely talented, funny, and versatile actor. He is a dream to direct!

Theater Acting Award (May Tie): Charlie Hamilton, Napa High School, Junior

Teacher Patty Profitt writes this about Charlie:

Charlie Hamilton, a junior at Napa High, joined Napa High Theatre Arts just this year. As a Drama 2 student, Charlie has worked on all the plays of the season. During productions of Frankenstein, The Tempest, Radium Girls, and The Red Knight, Charlie continued to grow and progress in their skill level as an actor. I knew after seeing his work in Radium Girls, where Charlie played multiple roles, that he was ready for a central role that would help tell the story. The role of Gwydion in The Red Knight is a great fit for Charlie’s acting style.  In addition, Charlie’s characterization of Gwydion is very dynamic. He always has interesting, in-character reactions to things happening on stage. It’s very fun to watch! I always enjoy watching actors like Charlie, who has a consistent energy. I appreciate the way that Charlie supports the production by always asking, “Is there something I can help with? – give me a job!”

Theater Acting Award (June): Camden Gilgallon, (Cafeteria Kids Theater) Vintage High School, Sophomore

Cafeteria Kids Director Olivia Cowell writes this about Camden:

We have had the pleasure of working with Camden Gilgallon over the past six years as an acting student and one year as an intern in the drama camps and workshops we have offered for youth in our community… She has impressed us time and again with her professionalism, maturity, and dedication to the performing arts…She is not only gifted with sharing her love of the theater arts, but she also is a talented performer. We have watched Camden blossom in the myriad of roles she has been cast in thus far in her acting experience. She is kind, a great communicator, goal-orientated, and a joy to work with.

Dance Award (May): Hannah McDaniel, Napa High School, Senior

Teacher Hollie Johnson writes this about Hannah:

Hannah has been training in dance since a young child. She brought all of her passion into our NHS Dance Family with our over 200 plus members in the department. She trains daily at NHS in ballet, pom, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, lyrical, and salsa. She comes to class every day with a positive attitude, a kind word, and a smile for all she encounters. She has talent, work ethic, and a positive attitude. Everything a teacher and Coach could ask for!

Dance Award (June): Vienne Lynch, Vintage High School, Senior

Teacher Lisa Sullivan writes this about Vienne:

I have had the privilege of working with Vienne In the Vintage High School Academic Performing Arts Dance Program in Levels 1,2,3,4, Academic Tutor, Ballet, en Pointe’, Performance, and Production. Vienne has held an active leadership role in class, as well as with the department’s productions. She is an amazing and highly talented performer and choreographer. Vienne has performed and choreographed several quality routines for our Productions while simultaneously and successfully serving as the Production Stage Manager.  Vienne has proven to be a strong leader, demonstrating emotional strength and maturity. Vienne is a  Stage Manager and also an Academic Tutor and Choreographer for Dance Level 1. Vienne leads with a motivating, caring, and positive grace that radiates confidence and wisdom, which also demands respect. She is passionate and thoughtful. Vienne maintains a current GPA of 4.2. She has received and committed to her acceptance letter at San Diego State University, where she will continue her passion and major in dance

Middle & Elementary Level Winners

Visual Art Award (May): Abigail Johnson, St. John’s Lutheran, 8th Grade

Teacher Sandra Cassayre writes this about Abigail:

Abby is an exceptionally talented artist and a lovely person. Her artistic skills are remarkable. She is accomplished in figure drawing and portrait drawing. Her drawing skills transfer to excellent painting ability. She uses color with ease and understands composition and form. She has excelled this year with painting, printmaking, pencil, watercolor, clay sculpture, and pen and ink. I am amazed and thrilled by what she is capable of. Abby is an excellent student and participates in theater, choir, academic competitions, and athletics.

Visual Art Award (June): Aubrey Emerson, Silverado Middle School, 8th Grade

Teacher Julia Zmed writes this about Aubrey:

Aubrey is a tremendously hard worker and an accomplished artist in multiple mediums and styles: graphite, watercolor, acrylic paint, and clay. She never stops creating: From the moment she enters the class, she works with a calm drive, and when she leaves, she continues to create at home, too, challenging herself with new mediums and subject matter. She is that rare combination of humble natural talent with a drive and desire to improve and push through her frustrations.

Band Award (May): Aidan Diaz, Silverado Middle School, 8th Grade

Teacher Brian Beggs writes this about Aidan:

Aidan has been in the SMS band program for three years and has shown consistent improvement in his musical skills. Aidan is a reliable student who is always prepared and happily takes on challenges. Aidan is a student who leads by example and has been a valuable member of the saxophone section in all of his years in middle school. We wish Aidan luck in continuing music in high school!

Band Award (June): Sofia Gutierrez Molina, Silverado Middle School, 8th Grade

Teacher Brian Beggs writes this about Sofia: 

Sofia has made tremendous progress in her first year in the SMS orchestra! Sofia is a hard worker and very reliable and responsible. Sofia seeks out knowledge and confidently takes on challenges. We’ve been very happy with her progress this year, and she sets a great example for other music students. We hope she enjoys music in high school!

Visual Art Award (May Tie): Rose Harrington, Vichy Elementary, 4th Grade

Teacher Sara Johnson writes this about Rose:

Rose is a creative, attentive, playful, kind, and amazing girl! Rose stands out as an anomaly with her artistic talents. She will take an assignment I give and produce her own creative version that is much better than what I suggested. I think she is the one teaching us all in terms of how to take anything and make it a more beautiful version.

Visual Art Award (May Tie): Inez Dillon-Sculley, Vichy Elementary, 5th Grade 

Teacher Carol Lloyd writes this about Inez:

Inez has a TALENT. She spends a lot of her spare time creating her personal masterpieces. She is shy and humble about her art but is often praised by teachers and peers about how talented she is. She is a second-year student at Vichy and… is starting to blossom with confidence, and it is a pleasure to see.

Visual Art Award (June): Gerardo Avina Zarate, Philips Magnet, 5th Grade 

Teacher Jennifer Veveiros writes this about Gerardo:

For Black History Month, students studied Faith Ringgold. She made story quilts to express her culture and family memories. Gerardo did the same with his art piece. He shows himself playing soccer with his father in the beautiful Napa Valley, with the Napa River and vineyards in the background. He also made a beautiful frame around the art piece to simulate the appearance of a quilt square. Gerardo’s detail of him and his dad in the oil pastel shows his talent for drawing and the use of blending with different colors on construction paper.

Visual 3D Art Award (May): April Gonzalez, Philips Magnet, 5th Grade 

Teacher Jennifer Veveiros writes this about April:

April is a very artistic student. Whenever she has the chance, she is drawing, painting, or folding paper. This art piece was a 3-dimensional sculpture she created using clay and pipe cleaners. She used her imagination to create this interesting looking sculpture. She was mindful of the colors she put together and the shape. April takes pride in her artwork and pays attention to detail!