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Napa arts educators recognize student excellence

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The Arts Council Napa Valley Education Alliance (ACNVEA) has recognized 10 students are being recognized as Visual and Performing Arts Student of the Month for March.

Here are the winners for March:

— High school and college level

Visual Arts: Pella Anderson: A 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. A member of the National Arts Society and participates in the Memory Project—Nigeria and art exchange initiative, Anderson has a deep interest in Russian culture and will travel to St. Petersburg this summer to study art.

Digital Media: Peyton Welch: A New Technology High junior, Welch, was a featured artist in the Lighted Art Festival, is working 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, as a teacher’s assistant for Gottfried, often leads groups.

Theater Arts: Ryland Richmond: A Napa High sophomore, Richmond 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: A Napa High freshman, DeNatale was nominated by Taylor Bartolucci for his work with Lucky Penny Productions. Bartolucci says DeNatale is “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.”

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Music/Choir & Band: Jasmin Cruz: An 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. 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 and elementary level

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 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 band mates 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.”

Music/Orchestra: Mya Ortiz Franco, Harvest Middle School, 8th grade. At the beginning of the year, when Harvest 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 April. If you know someone, a teacher or a student who deserves recognition, 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.

“During this unprecedented disruption of classroom learning, remains committed to honoring teachers and students who strive for excellence despite the odds,” a statement from the organization read.

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