November’s Stars in the Arts: Teachers nominate 12 Napa County students | Arts & Theatre

Robert G. Mull

Napa educators recognize arts students 

Twelve Napa County students have been recognized as Visual and Performing Arts Student of the Month for November in a program organized by the Arts Council Napa Valley Education Alliance. The initiative seeks nominees monthly, culminating in a scholarship ceremony at the end of the school year.

They are now accepting nominations for December and January from college, high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools from visual and performing arts teachers throughout the county. Go to the Arts Council Napa Valley website for more information and to access the nomination form. Nominations are due by the 25th of every month.

Here are November’s winners:

High School 

Studio Arts: Alicia Fletcher, Napa High School senior






Alicia Fletcher

Art work by  Alicia Fletcher




Alicia Fletcher shines in Kristi Crickmore’s art room. With a natural eye for design and color combinations, her work is graphic and bold. Crickmore says that Alicia is “hard-working, creative, and continually trying new ideas.” Her Unique illustrations stand out, and her hard work is worthy of praise.

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Performance Arts: Leah Gottfried, Oxbow School junior






Leah Gottfried

Leah Gottfried




Teacher Jennifer Jordan says Leah Gottfried’s work illuminates that we as humans “are not alone in our feelings.” Gottfried dug deep to create a performance piece reflecting her understanding of the “masks” women wear in this society. Jordan explains that this highly personal work “depicts the transition from being a child to a woman.” Every last detail in the work is symbolic of the emotional and systemic push, pull, and erasure of the “masks that are imposed by society.” Leah is a true artist and a keen observer of the human condition.

Digital Media (TIE): Alisa Karesh, Napa High School senior






Alisa Karesh

Art work by Alisa Karesh




Alisa Karesh is a digital artist who is “not afraid to pave her own path,” says teacher Kristi Crickmore. Recognized as a hard worker,” Alisa is known to work non-stop until her creative goals are met. She also helps others in her classes. Crickmore  that Alisa is “an amazingly talented and inventive artist with a passion for pushing herself and for being there, wherever needed.”

Digital Media (TIE): Trinity Nystrom, New Tech High School junior






Trinity Nystrom

Art work by Trinity Nystrom




Trinity Nystrom is known for her wildly inventive artistic style when painting and drawing. This year, however, her well-developed skills have translated beautifully to graphic design and digital painting. Her work is playful and clever yet always “pushes her own craft and abilities,” says her teacher Lisa Gottfried who added, you can’t miss her kind heart and a generosity of spirit, which shines through in her artwork. Examples at: https://trinitynystrom.weebly.com/my-artwork.html

Theater Arts (TIE): Giovanny Perez Solorio, Napa High School senior






Giovanny Perez Solorio

Giovanny Perez Solorio




Giovanny Perez Solorio is a hard-working thespian on all fronts: He is as dedicated to his craft as he is to helping stagehands “paint, load-in, build, strike and stow the set pieces,” says drama teacher Patty Profitt. For his immeasurable efforts, he was promoted to advanced drama for his senior year. Giovanny worked on the costume design team for the Drama 2 production of “Dreamlandia.” (Dec. 2-4) as well as understudying the roles of Pepin and Celestino. 

Theater Arts (TIE): Natalya Farris, American Canyon High School senior






Natalya Farris

Natalya Farris




Natalya Farris’s natural theater skills, paired with her endless enthusiasm, placed her in advanced drama as a 9th-grade student. Natalya is consistently cast in critical roles in multiple productions and recently became teacher Summer Heartt’s assistant director for the fall play, “Clue On Stage.” Heart writes that Natalya’s “vision, voice, and communication skills were exemplified in this leadership position.” Because of these skills, those who were fortunate enough to see the play “felt a sense of theatre magic that night.” 

Music/Choir: Markus Tecson, American Canyon High senior






Markus Tecson,

Markus Tecson




Teacher Jamie Butler describes Markus Tecson as “one of the best leaders I have taught in my 21-year career!” His peers, who look up to him for his singing talents and work ethic, refer to him as “Father Markus.” This truly impressive Senior at ACHS is also currently the President of the Associated Students of Napa Valley College, and “all this while carrying a 4.4 GPA,” says Butler. Markus’s future is a bright one!

Middle & Elementary Level Winners

Studio Arts (TIE): Lizeth Cuevas Valle, Silverado Middle School, eighth grade






Lizeth Cuevas Valle

Art work by Lizeth Cuevas Valle




Lizeth Cuevas Valle is the kind of student every teacher dreams about: a true artist who acts as a second teacher within the classroom. “Her raw talent is something that you cannot teach, only hope to nurture,” explains her teacher Julia Zmed. Even small and straightforward warm-ups will become nightlong projects that get returned to class as a fantastic surprise. Lizeth takes all work as a challenge to be attacked with focus, stunning detail and skill.

Studio Arts (TIE): Amanda Piszczek, American Canyon Middle School, eighth grade






Amanda Piszczek

Art work by Amanda Piszczek




Amanda Piszczek’s eye for natural design is on display in every work of art she creates. She has a broad skillset and a willingness to learn and attempt just about any artistic medium there is. She knits, paints and draws, all the while consistently improving. Her teacher Jenifer Leahy says Amanda is a “pure joy to watch!”

Photo/Film: Andy Gonzalez-Hernandez, River Middle School, eighth grade






Andy Gonzalez-Hernandez

Art work by Andy Gonzalez-Hernandez




Andy Gonzalez-Hernandez excels in many classes, but none more than art. While he doesn’t practice the medium of photography in school, Andy’s teacher Hollie Hardwick explains that “when a student spends time outside of school and class creatively engaged, [it’s important to] recognize their natural talent.” This incredibly kind and sociable young man is exceptionally skilled at capturing nature. Hardwick adds that she believes Andy’s “talent and genuine friendliness” are a recipe for success in a career in photography and videography. His website is www.gnzlzphotography.com/

Band/Orchestra: Janelley Cruz, American Canyon Middle School, eighth grade






Janelley Cruz

Janelley Cruz




Janelley Cruz switched from violin to string bass (her current instrument) in sixth grade. Janelley’s teacher Deborah Walden said she was delighted how much Janelley had accomplished on her instrument, with minimal instruction and a year of online learning, upon her return to school this year. Not only is Janelley lead bass, but she is kind and respectful to both her teachers and peers, all while remaining focused on her craft. Walden sings her praises, saying, “It is students like Janelley who make my responsibilities as a music teacher fun and rewarding.”

Studio Art: Damian Alejandre, Philips Academy, fifth grade






Damian Alejandre

A artwork by Damian Alejandre




Teacher Jennifer Veveiros recognizes Damian Alejandre as an exceptionally observant artist whose detailed paintings and drawings show that he genuinely thinks “outside the box,” working to differentiate his artworks from his peers. During a quilt project called “Visible Threads” Damian cut and glued fabric pieces to create his picture, rather than simply paint it. The completed work stands apart, earning him this special recognition.



The Vintage High School orchestra played the famous 1948 Christmas song during a rehearsal Nov. 20.











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