Upper School Art Awards Recognize Achievement in a Variety of Disciplines

More than 70 Upper School students were recognized for achievement in the performing and visual arts in the Upper School Arts Awards this week. The virtual celebration honored seniors who pursued their artistic discipline beyond the arts requirement. Many arts faculty commented how much the program has benefitted from these talented individuals who developed their own gifts and talents as well as contributed to the program in ways that supported other students. A common refrain was how much this group of graduates will be missed.
The 2021 Awards program began with the performing arts portion that featured an overview of the year by Director of the Arts Darcy Rice.
“We’ve had a strong slate of performances this year, including our fall 2020 Upper School play, All in the Timing, both winter and spring dance concerts, an amazing Christmas concert, Tartan Jam, Coffee House Cabaret and more,” Mr. Rice said. 
Choir Director Stacey Miles recognized outstanding students in choir, including Maddie Bendzick ’23, James Kim ’21, Neela Gerayli ’22, Rylan Rodrigues-Zahn ’22, Sam Kushner ’24 and Alden Copps ’23.
Band Awards presented by Band Director Chris Carbajal included Director’s Award to Jake Chun ’22, the John Philip Sousa Band Award to Mason Mellard ’21, the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award to Nick Saunders ’21. Meanwhile, the Woody Herman Jazz Award went to the following seniors: Chloe Abracosa, Trey Pate, Julia Schulze, and Alexis Woods.
In orchestra, Linling Hsu presented the Long Service Medal to senior Jack Aitken who has participated in Orchestra for nine years. Awards for Musical Excellence went to Alexandra Botuchis ‘23, Lauren Lam ‘23, Dylan Meeks ‘22, Rain Xie ‘24, Renee Yu ’23 and Carina Zhang ‘22.
Technical Director and Resident Designer Gordon Richins presented the Technical Arts Awards. He highlighted the contributions of seniors James Kim, Ryan Krall and Espen Garner. Espen won the overall Outstanding Technical Theater Award in recognition of his work on a total of 21 productions, completing more 100 individual performances and lighting design for 11 different productions.
Dance Director Kirsten Harvey presented the Excellence in Dance Awards to Grace Williams ‘24, Abby Eubanks ’24 and Christine Kao ‘21. Additionally, Caroline Kinsey ‘22 won the award for Dance Choreography. The Spirit of Dance Award went to Ashley Shanahan ‘23 for her exceptional work ethic and attitude.
Finally, Drama Director Dan Pacheco celebrated a talented roster of seniors and students who earned Outstanding Actor/Actress Medals before presenting plaques for Excellence in Drama to seniors Jack Aitken, Tati Cloobeck, Tommy Colglazier and Nic Jacome.
The 2020-2021 Cappies team was recognized and the Melinda Keane Costume Studio Awards of Excellence were presented by alumni parent Gina Zediker to senior Chloe Abracosa for hair and makeup design and to senior Claire Ahn for costume creation and design.
This year’s Performing Arts Triple Threat Award went to Jack Aitken for his talents across three disciplines – Drama, Choir and Orchestra.
The Visual Arts Awards presentation was also an opportunity to celebrate student achievements. Visual Arts Department Chair Jesse Standlea recognized that students have been resilient and creative this year.  “I am so glad that they have had a place to express themselves… in the disciplines of ceramics, photography, film and studio art.”
Mr. Standlea began by awarding students in 3D visual arts. Awards went to Nicole Swensen ‘22 for achievement, Matthew Welling ‘23 for growth, Espen Garner for excellence and Cece Xu ‘21 and Mark Robinson ‘22 for creativity. As Mr. Standlea commented, “In creative fields, we are always learning and developing new ways of working, and new ways of approaching creative problems. In other words, we are always growing.”
Phillip Griswold presented the Awards for 2D visual art. Juniors Emma Chang and Amelia Kang earned awards for excellence, while Reid Graham was recognized for achievement. Seniors Kat Collier and Italivi Diaz received awards for growth and creativity, respectively.
For digital photography, Amanda Albanese honored senior Isabel Lim in the category of achievement. Claire Kim ‘21 and Gianna Montesano ’22 won awards for creativity, and Melia Norwood was recognized for growth.
In cinematic arts, Karen Bennett shared how due to the pandemic much of the collaborative work was done remotely adding yet another level of complexity onto an already technically complex art form. The students recognized for achievement in film were Emma Evanson ‘23, Ryan Krall ‘21, Emmy Perry ‘23, Winston Verdult ’23, Kate Lee ’23 and Max Page ‘22.
The final award of the evening was the 2021 Illumination Award presented to senior Cameron Sharifian for his digital photography. His photographic piece will be printed on aluminum and included in the Illumination Awards collection in the Performing Arts Center upstairs gallery.  
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
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St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
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San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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