Our sister sites:

MARCH 2020 VAPA SOM WINNERS

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

April 2, 2020 (Napa, CA) — During this unprecedented disruption of classroom learning, placing enormous pressure on arts education in particular, The Arts Council Napa Valley Education Alliance remains committed to honoring teachers and students who strive for excellence despite the odds. Ten students are being recognized as Visual and Performing Arts Student of the Month winners for March. This month four students tied in two different categories–Theater & Visual Arts. This new annual awards initiative will seek nominees monthly culminating in an awards and scholarship ceremony. Due to our current sheltered-in-place order, This year’s event scheduled for Tuesday, April 28th, 2020 at the Yountville Community Center has been postponed. A new date will be announced as soon as possible. In the meantime, ACNVEA will continue to recognize students who, through the efforts of their dedicated and creative teachers, strive to learn and grow as artists from home. We are now accepting nominations for April

from College, High School, Middle School and Elementary level visual and performing arts teachers from throughout the county. Please go to the Arts Council Napa Valley Website for more information and to access the Call for Nominees Entry Form

Here are March’s winners:


High School & College Level Winners

Visual Arts: Pella Anderson, Justin-Siena High Junior.  

Anderson has just completed this detailed piece for Not From Around Here, the Annual Student Juried Art Show at the Napa Valley Museum. She has a deep interest in Russian culture and will travel to St. Petersburg this summer to study art. Anderson is a member of the National Arts Society and participates in the Memory Project–Nigeria, and art exchange initiative.

Digital Media: Peyton Welch, New Technology High Junior.  

Welch, who was a featured artist in the Lighted Art Festival, is well on her path toward becoming an animator, editor and artist. Her teacher, Lisa Gottfried, says, “She is always willing to explore and troubleshoot in order to deepen her digital art skills.”  Welch TA’s for Gottfried, often leading groups, teaching others what she knows.


Theater Arts: Ryland Richmond, Napa High Sophomore. 

Richmond is a passionate student who continually works to improve her craft. Her teacher Patty Profit says she delivers quality performances in both comedy and drama. She also praises Richmond for consistently supporting the Napa High Theater Arts program by acting as a publicity liaison to the Napa Register.  

Theater Arts: Joe DeNatale, Napa High Freshman.

DeNatale was nominated by Taylor Bartolucci for his work with Lucky Penny Productions. She says he’s, “not only incredibly talented in the performing arts as a singer, actor and dancer, but he is also motivated, collaborative and full of positive energy.”  DeNatale shined on stage and off during the recent production of Xanadu Jr. Bartolucci says, “As the lead of the production, he set an incredible example for all cast members by being helpful, inclusive and kind.”

Music/Choir & Band: Jasmin Cruz, American Canyon High Senior. 

Cruz has been section leader in the ACHS Choir for three years, served as a student accompanist, and is a member of the Chamber Choir and of the Girls Quartet. She’s also an accomplished percussionist, keyboard player and cellist–marching in the band, playing in the Jazz band, the school orchestra, and Napa Valley Youth Symphony.  Her teacher, Jamie Butler, says “She has accomplished much as a student, but what is going to help her excel in her bright future is her humble spirit.” Butler adds, “In my 19 years of teaching experience, I have never run across a student so prepared to become a music educator and inspire the next generation of students to love music.”


Middle & Elementary Level Winners

Visual Arts: Lillian Hartwell, Willow Elementary, 4th Grade.

Her teacher, Ivory Martin, says she is “bursting with natural talent and a constant desire to fine-tune her skills.” Hartwell is always open to new ideas in art and takes pride in her work. Martin says that she always has a positive attitude even when the project doesn’t come out as planned. She adds that Hartwell’s, “love for all things art shows in everything she does.” 

3D Art/Ceramics: Mikayla Holcomb, St. Apollinaris Catholic School, 8th grade.

While Holcomb excels in 3D art forms, notably sculpture, she is also accomplished in painting and drawing. Her teachers, Sandra Cassayre and Michele Lemieux, say, “Mikayla’s style is expressive and elegant, incorporating a delicate touch and unique sensitivity.” She is an active member of her community, volunteering by playing piano at Aegis Living Senior Center, donating to Locks of Love and painting faces at the St. Apollinaris Church picnic.   

Theater Arts: Sophia Morales, Redwood Middle School, 8th Grade.

Morales was an outstanding performer in Xanadu Jr at Lucky Penny Productions. In addition to performing, Morales served as Dance Captain for the cast, taking on a leadership role to help others with the tricky choreography. Managing Director, Barry Martin, says, “She is a devoted theater artist and always has a great attitude!” 

Music/Band: Liam Cringan, River Middle School, 8th Grade.

Cringan is a gifted Euphonium player. He was chosen by his fellow students to be the student conductor of the 7th/8th grade Intermediate Band and he very shyly took up the baton. His teacher, DeeAndrea Ellis, says, “He is rather quiet and humble, but he embraced his role and has taken his conducting to the next level.”  She says he’s respected by his fellow bandmates and continues to be a strong, yet quiet, leader. Ellis adds, “He leads by example and it’s been a great honor to teach him and watch him blossom into a strong leader, past his shy nature.”


Music/Orchestra: Mya Ortiz Franco, Harvest Middle School, 8th Grade.

At the beginning of the year, when HMS didn’t have a bass player in the orchestra, Ortiz Franco stepped up to learn it. Her teacher, Nick Burdick, says, “She learned it quickly and now provides us with a rich, low sound.” He adds that she comes in to practice every day after school and that, “her quirky sense of humor adds a lot to the class.” 


ACNVEA is currently reaching out to teachers throughout the county seeking nominees for the month of April. All winners will be recognized with a certificate and invited to an awards and scholarship ceremony (TBA). 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 Nominations are due by the 20th of every month.