Art students recognized for excellence | Education

The Arts Council Napa Valley Education Alliance has recognized nine students are as Visual and Performing Arts Students of the Month winners for February.

Four students tied in two different categories, Studio Arts and Band. The Arts council initiative seeks nominees monthly, culminating in a scholarship ceremony at the school year end.

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

Here are February’s winners:

— Studio Art (TIE): Litong (Asteria) Liu, Justin Sienna High School junior







Artwork by Litong (Asteria) Liu.


Asteria uses art to feel purpose and comfort as she explores her feelings of anxiety and confidence as a study abroad student from China here in Napa. Her artwork concerns the complexities of materialism as it relates to self-worth.

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Her teacher Aleta Andrews says that Asteria is actively pursuing a future in art as a career. “I have seen tremendous growth in her personality and art, which is an amazing thing to witness in a student.”

— Studio Art (TIE): Fatima Romero-Munoz, Vintage High School senior







Fatima Romero-Munoz

Artwork by Fatima Romero-Munoz




AP Studio Art student Fatima Romero-Munoz has shown tremendous growth both technically and conceptually as an artist. She has a fascination in psychology, andher work investigates the oddity of human behavior.

She paints based on photos (both posed and candid) “telling stories of a variety of students and their personal experiences (positive, negative and sometimes bizarre) with school bathrooms,” explains her teacher of four years, Crystal Clark.

Clark describes Fatima as a compassionate person and bright student who is treasurer for the VHS Art Club,  an active member of the Spanish Club, and is a sprinter on the track and field team.

— Theater Arts: Kalise Espiritu, American Canyon High School senior







Kalise Espiritu

Kalise Espiritu




Kalise Espiritu has worked through her “very shy and quiet nature” in the last four years in Summer Heartt’s theater program to become one of its strongest, most talented members through a “ drive simmering quietly under her sweet disposition.”

She most recently played French maid Yvette in ACHS’s production of “Clue On Stage” and will be Rona in their spring musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

She has worked as an actor and designer for the school’s productions and gives 100% of herself regardless of her role. These qualities make her a great role model to the underclassman in the program.

Heartt said, “I am most taken with Kalise’s ability to surprise me…She thinks deeply, is constantly improving, and is hungry for opportunities to learn.”

She will move on to CalState Northridge to continue her studies in theater arts.

— Digital Arts: Nadia Sousa, Justin Siena High freshman







Nadia Sousa

“This is Me” by Nadia Sousa




Nadia exhibits a strong grasp of conceptual visual understanding as an illustrator and artist, even as a freshman. Her hard work and general scholarly nature have amazed her teacher Monica Jacobson, who describes her “quick to understand complex problem solving,” while “producing thoughtful work which engages the viewer.” 

Middle and Elementary Level 

— Digital: Oliver Sto Domingo, American Canyon Middle School eighth grade







Oliver Sto Domingo

Oliver Sto Domingo, “Lotus”




While Oliver is recognized for their digital art, teacher Jenifer Leahy points out that they are just as talented with pencil, colored pencil, and acrylic paint. It is rare when a Middle School teacher gets to see a student grow creatively for all three years. Still, Leahy says Oliver has exhibited “a calm [and] quiet nature, but a colorful one,” with a strong desire to “stand up for others’ rights, especially in the LGBTQ+ community.” They draw their inspiration from music lyrics and encouragement from friends.

— Studio Arts: Claire Hayashi, Silverado Middle School seventh grade







Claire Hayashi

Artwork by Claire Hayashi.


Claire’s artwork has a clean, graceful style that grows increasingly complex and precise with every new piece. Her teacher, Julia Zmed, who has had the pleasure of watching Claire’s artistic abilities blossom, describes her as a “quiet, but determined artist with admirable focus.” Claire challenges herself by “always choosing to go way beyond the extra mile.” She is a bright and driven student and an accomplished swimmer.

— Band/Orchestra (TIE): Annabel Vivanco, Silverado Middle School, eighth grade







Annabel Vivanco

Annabel Vivanco




Annabel’s passion for playing Cello in SMS Orchestra for the past three years has genuinely impressed her teacher Brian Beggs. Annabel is a leader in her classroom as a positive force willing to help and encourage others. Beggs says Annabel “is a strong cello player and also shows great listening skills. Annabel willingly accepts challenges and is eager to learn new and difficult music.”

— Band/Orchestra: Zachary Alim-Quenga, American Canyon Middle School eighth grade







Zachary Alim-Quenga

Zachary Alim-Quenga




Zachary has been a percussionist at ACMS for the past three years and “excels on snare drum and mallets,” says his teacher Deborah Walden. As a section leader, he has helped the other percussionists learn their part and become better at their craft. Walden describes Zackary as a “confident, kind, and patient” student who is well respected by his peers. This responsible and considerate student has transported all percussion equipment to and from the parking lot during COVID-19 restricted rehearsals. “Having a responsible student like Zachary has been a huge help to me. I am very thankful,” Walden said.

— Studio Art: Katherine Torres, Phillips fifth grade







Katherine Torres

Artwork by Katherine Torres.




Katherine is a diligent and thoughtful artist, continuously improving her techniques and creating unique work. Artist Alma Thomas inspired the project shown for Black History Month and Valentine’s Day. After watching videos of Thomas’ work, she came up with her own “love” inspired creation. Her teacher Taherine Torres says,” Katherine, like Thomas, sees the world as colorful and bright, even during troubling times like the pandemic.”

Anita Shire

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