September 2023 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. Twelve students are recognized as September’s Visual and Performing Arts Student of the Month (SOM) winners. ACNVEA SOM annual awards initiative seeks nominees monthly, culminating in a scholarship ceremony at the end of the school year. Starting this year, we are also asking our Creative Writing teachers to recognize their most passionate and deserving students in our new “Creative Writing” category. 

Last year, well over one hundred students were honored with the ACNV VAPA Student of the Month award, while twenty-six went on to win special recognition in our Student of the Year Celebration. $14,000 in scholarships were awarded and divided to these students in seven different categories– Performing Arts Student of the Year, Visual Arts Student of the Year, VAPA Art Activism, College Distinction, Highschool Distinction (VAPA Multi-Hyphen, Vocal, Instrumental, Dance, Digital, 3D, Studio, Film & Photography, Theater Production, Theater Acting), Middle School Distinction (Visual & Performing Overall, VAPA Multi-hyphen, Instrumental, Theater, Studio), and Elementary Distinction (Band, Visual Overall, Studio, VAPA Multi-hyphen)

We are now accepting nominations for October ACNVEA SOM from College, High School, Middle School, and Elementary level from the county’s visual &performing arts and creative writing teachers. Please visit the Arts Council Napa Valley website for more information and access to the nomination form. Nominations are due by the 25th of every month.

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: ArtsCouncilNV.Org/Donations.

Here are September’s winners:

High School Level Winners

Dance: Diego Moreno, NV Independent Studies Senior

Teacher Susan Wilson writes this about Diego:

“Diego’s passion is in dance. With his talents, he is able to evoke emotions, joy, and awe in his performances. As a competitive dancer, Diego has won top elite awards and recognition both locally and nationally. Diego understands the commitment and dedication it takes to compete at a high level. It is evident that he understands how to get the full opportunity life has to offer: your mind and heart have to be in sync. His motivation to succeed is seen in his dance and academics.”

Digital Art: Willem Patty, New Tech HS Senior

Teacher Lisa Gottfried writes this about Willem :

“Willem is the kind of genius artist that is going to someday be seen as a visionary in his creative field. He blends together his unique sense of humor with political commentary and artistic design flair. He is a one-of-a-kind student and hopes to go into the field of graphic design.“

3D Art: Elijah Valdez, Oxbow Senior

Chris Thorton, Dean of Studio Arts, writes this about Elijah:

“Elijah’s work in sculpture highlights his drive, his creative vision, his care for the environment, and his sense of community. In recent projects, Elijah has worked outdoors to experiment with land art, and he has addressed topics such as environmental justice and climate change. For example, in response to research on urban heat islands, Elijah created a plaster, wire mesh, and paper sculpture that depicted a fanciful city. Upon closer inspection, the city reveals its divided nature.” 

Elijah explains that his “personal experience of coming from a low-income family created a sense of importance in representing and voicing these issues.”

Vocal (TIE): Josh Gonzales, American Canyon HS Senior

Teacher Jamie Butler writes this about Josh:

“Josh is an incredibly talented singer with a heart of gold. When the tenor section is smiling, Josh is right in the middle of it. He is a section leader who leads through his talent and work ethic. I admire that he loves the outdoors and carves out time in his busy schedule to fish and hike with his family and friends. I am proud of Josh, and I’m excited to watch him continue to grow as a performer this year!“

Vocal (TIE): Jackson U’Ren, Vintage HS Senior

Teacher  Mark Teeters writes this about Jackson:

“Jackson is an extremely talented singer, pianist, and musician and works very hard to be a leader of the VHS choir program as choir president. He is taking on the role of Phantom in our spring musical, Phantom of the Opera. He recently was a guest performer for two Broadway and Vine events (Natalie Tannenbaum and Brooke Sheilds.) He is humble and very dedicated to our choral music program at Vintage.“

Band & Orchestra: Julia Bui, Napa HS Senior

Teacher Mike Riendeau writes this about Julia :

“In Orchestra, Julia is our Student Conductor ‘Concertmaster’ this year and is the First Violin Section Leader for the second year. She is an assistant idiomatic instructor on bowed string instruments in class nearly every day. She is also a strong member of our Choral program here at Napa High. She has been a strong leading member of our String Quartet called the “String Seven” and our Chamber Strings. She is a participating member of several important social clubs at school and a Calculus Teacher’s Aid. Lastly, somehow, she finds time to perform and rehearse with the Napa Youth Symphony and has done so for all her years here.”

Studio Art (TIE): Maya Prouty, Napa HS Senior

NVUSD Trustee Cindy Watter writes this about Maya:

“I first saw Maya’s art at an exhibition of student art last winter at the Napa City/County Library. She had a couple of pen and ink drawings, figurative yet surrealistic, expressing the tension of a teenage female. One was of a body that was trying to escape control; the other was a portrait. I chose this one because I think the image of the female turning into a tree has classical allusions (the legend of the Daphne shrub/nymph), and I think it will speak to many viewers. Maya is an excellent student, and she also sings in the school choir and has performed in musical theater. She has many talents, and I think she will continue her painting. I am impressed by her work.”

Studio Art (TIE): Claire Rock, Vintage HS Senior

Teacher Crystal Clark writes this about Claire:

“This is my 4th year working with Claire Rock, who is currently in AP Studio Art …I am constantly impressed with and inspired by her work, passion, and drive. Claire is a very accomplished artist and a natural storyteller who is skilled in a variety of drawing and painting mediums (from colored pencil to pastel, and printmaking to oil painting and everything in between). Claire takes ordinary assignments and turns them into little masterpieces that tell beautiful and personal stories using her own journey and people in her life as subjects in many of her works of art. Claire is curious, creative, kind, and caring. In addition to being an amazing art student and overall cool human, Claire is also Co-President of our Art Club.”

Middle & Elementary Level Winners

Visual Art TIE: Owen Morasci, RMS 8th

Teacher Andrew Winegarner writes this about Owen:

Owen is a very diligent student who is always working on art projects. His style is clean, detailed, and impressive.

Visual Art TIE: Jayden Penuelas, SMS 8th

Teacher Julia Zmed writes this about Jayden:

Having not received art as his elective for the 2nd year in a row,  Jayden came to see me every day the first week of school until we were able to place him in my Fine Arts course, filled with students who have been with me for 1-2 years. He hasn’t disappointed: He works hard and with ambitious creativity in even the smallest of sketchbook assignments.  I can not wait to see his fully realized portfolio by year’s end!”

Visual Art (TIE): Valentina Luna, St. John’s Lutheran School 2nd Grade 

Teacher Sandra Cassayre writes this about Valentina:

“Valentina is a talented artist who approaches her work with fierce originality and creativity. She is never satisfied with “good enough.” She doesn’t stop, and if she runs out of class time, she takes her art home to finish it. I think her enthusiasm, dedication, and love of art should be recognized!!”

Visual Art (TIE): Juliette Buckland, Vichy 4th Grade 

Teacher Sara Johnson writes this about Juliette: 

“Juliette has a true talent for art. She demonstrates this with her amazing use and blend of colors and sketching abilities. She is attentive to everything she does and puts forth her best effort at all times. She is also a helpful and kind part of our classroom community.”