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2016-2017 Long Island Scholar Artists

The goal of the Scholar-Artist program is to honor exceptionally accomplished high school seniors September to June. Selections are made, each spring, from a pool of Long Island students. From these nominees, one monthly award winner from Nassau and one from Suffolk is chosen.

Jessica Lavenda, Suffolk County Long Island Scholar Artist for September

Commack High School's Jessica Lavenda has found her

Commack High School's Jessica Lavenda has found her calling. A dancer since the age of two, Jessica describes her love of dance "the air that I breathe." She sees dance as a way to express herself and, at the same time, bring joy to others. Fluent in ballet, modern tap, jazz and contemporary dance, she has participated in the Joffrey Summer Intensive, the Joffrey Professional Training Program, the NYU Tisch Future Dancers and Dancemakers Intensive, and the Ailey Junior and Professional Division Summer Intensives, Jessica pursues dance with the passion of a professional.

Jessica Lavenda, on-stage

While Jessica pursues dance she also has made

While Jessica pursues dance she also has made sure not to neglect her studies. She is a member in the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and the LIT (English) Honor Society. Jessica also participates in these school clubs; Pay it Forward, Best of Buds, International Cultural Society and SADD. As Jessica looks to the future, she plans to pursue a BFA in dance performance and pursue a career in dance with a contemporary ballet company or in the theatre.

Nassau County's Long Island Scholar Artist for September, Zachary Lee

With talents spanning the arts from multi-instrumental music

With talents spanning the arts from multi-instrumental music performance to musical composition and singing, Zachary Lee of John L. Miller-Great Neck North High School has distinguished himself as a true artist. Proficient in both piano and flute, Zachary has performed at Carnegie Hall in the Great Neck Music Conservatory high honors concerts and with the Colorado Performing Arts Intensive for their performance at Central City Opera. He has also performed voice, flute, and piano, both solo and ensemble, at the Oyster Bay Music Festival.

Zachary Lee in performance

Scholastically, Zachary is one of his schools top

Scholastically, Zachary is one of his schools top students with a GPA of 97.46 and memberships in many of the schools clubs including the Tri-M Music Honor Society, the Chamber Music Society, the Jazz Ensemble, the International Thespian Society and the Junior Players Theater Club. Zachary is the head of the Theater Club's art and design crew and a member of the Improv Club. Zachary's college plans include music performance and theater while studying subjects from the humanities to sciences.

Maxwell Herman, Long Island Scholar Artist for October

Syosset High School's, Maxwell Herman says,

Syosset High School's, Maxwell Herman says, "My art is not simply a hobby, it's a lifestyle." Known for singing all day, every day, Maxwell is an accomplished vocalist and performer even before his high school years have ended. He has been named a finalist in the 2015 Roger Rees Awards and a winner of the Oyster Bay Talent Show in 2008.

Maxwell on-stage

Maxwell's talents have taken him all over Long

Maxwell's talents have taken him all over Long Island and into New York City with performances at the Amore Opera, Bleecker Street Theater and with New York City Opera's Children's Chorus. On Long Island, Maxwell has put his talents to work within his school theater program as well as the Cultural Arts Playhouse in Jericho. Maxwell's post high school plans include working with a young artists program and eventually performing on Broadway or as a member of an opera company.

Nassau County Long Island Scholar Artist, Yikun Ava Xu - October

For Cold Spring Harbor High School senior Yikun

For Cold Spring Harbor High School senior Yikun Ava Xu, art is a family affair. Growing up in China with her artist father, Yikun credits those earlier years as the foundation for her love of the craft. Yikun has won multiple National and New York Scholastic Gold Key Awards for painting and drawing; and was also awarded a year-long display for her piece entitled, "Girl Boxer" at the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington, DC.

"The Boxer"

Yikun has broadened her skills by attending the

Yikun has broadened her skills by attending the School of Visual Arts Pre-college sculpture program, the Parsons pre-college fashion accessory program, the Oogie Art program and with a Student Exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art. After graduation Yikun plans to pursue a fine arts career and expand her painting portfolio at The Cooper Union or New York University.

Carter Montgomery, November Long Island Scholar Artist for Suffolk County

Mattituck High School's Carter Montgomery has a passion

Mattituck High School's Carter Montgomery has a passion for film making. His says his mission is "to bring attention to topics that aren't normally spoken about" while entertaining people at the same time. He did just that by winning Best In Show at the Five Towns College Film Festival with his documentary, "Nightmare on Sesame Street". In addition to that award, Carter's work has been recognized as a DECA regional winner, in a PSA to promote St. Jude Medical Center and in film work for the East End Disability Associates 2016 Gala.

A scene from, "Smack", directed by Carter Montgomery

Carter worked on

Carter worked on "The Peconic Bay Estuary", a film documenting students studying the local bay area and the importance of preserving this resource. He's also the assistant Director for the in-production film, "Credit Union", a romantic-comedy. With a Full Scholarship to the Manhattan Film Institute this past Summer, Carter stands ready to pursue his film making in college with a plan to work in the film industry in Los Angeles or New York City.

Brooke Leventhal, November Long Island Scholar Artist for Nassau County

"Dance allows me to express myself in a way that words cannot" says East Meadow High School's Brooke Leventhal. A dancer since the age of two and a half, Brooke has performed in multiple productions of The Nutcracker with the Eglevsky Ballet and the New York Dancer's Studio; Cracked with the Nomad Contemporary Ballet and at the Long Island Celebration of Dance Festival. She has also performed in the Summer Intensive Programs at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Massachusetts and at The Rock School for Dance in Philadelphia.

Brooke Laventhal, in the studio

Finding that dance offers

Finding that dance offers "a distraction from the everyday responsibilities of being a busy teenager", Brooke has also engaged her talents with the East Meadow High School Fashion Club, French Club, and Varsity Kickline. She has also been the Special Event Coordinator for the Tri-M Music Honor Society and holds membership in the National and Business Honor Societies. After high school Brooke plans to major in Fashion Business with hopes of a career in Fashion Merchandising.

Daelynn Jorif, Long Island Scholar Artist for December

Daelynn Jorif has sung her way into the

Daelynn Jorif has sung her way into the hearts of her classmates at Baldwin High School. Acting as President and Director of Baldwin High School Show Choir as well as for the Baldwin High School Vocal Jazz Ensemble, she has also performed with the school's Sweet Adelines and been a member of the school club, "Academons". Recently, Daelynn was selected for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-Eastern Honors Mixed Choir and has gone through the complete the cycle of earning All-County, All-State, All-Eastern, and All-National honors.

Daelynn in performance

Daelynn sees the arts as more than an

Daelynn sees the arts as more than an expression of her talent, "I always think that life is this beautiful, exciting, complex thing, but it's in black and white. When people find their passion, that's when everything turns to color. That's exactly how I feel when I'm performing or rehearsing or learning about anything that has to do with the performing arts." "...our work as artists is never done" and, so, Daelynn plans to major in musical theatre after high school with her eye on a career on Broadway.

Michael Stevens, Suffolk County Long Island Scholar Artist for December

East Islip High School's Michael Stevens describes his

East Islip High School's Michael Stevens describes his love of music as more than entertainment but as a communication tool, "it encompasses a depth of human emotion and thought that cannot be reached by words". Among his many accomplishments, Michael has performed with the New York Youth Symphony, National Youth Orchestra, New York All State Wind Ensemble, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of NY and has studied at The Juilliard School Pre-College Division.

Michael Stevens in performance

At school he is a member of the

At school he is a member of the Tri-M Music Honors Society, the East Islip High School Ensembles, Choruses and Jazz Band as well. With his long-term career goal of being in a professional orchestra, Michael is applying to numerous conservatories and music schools with hopes of continue his studies in horn performance

Alexa Orsino, January Long Island Scholar Artist

The Bay Area Friends of Fine Art student

The Bay Area Friends of Fine Art student exhibit, The Parrish Museum Student Exhibition, and the Suffolk County Art Leaders Association are just a few of the places that the photography of Bellport High School senior Alexa Orsino have been shown . The January Long Island Scholar Artist is a gifted photographer with big plans for the future. She is involved in student council, works on the school newspaper and is also a member of the National Honor Society.

The art of Alexa Orsino

Alexa says that for her,

Alexa says that for her, "Art is a form of expression" and has allowed her to "branch out and feel confident -- as well as gives me a sense of purpose." After high school, Alexa plans to study Bio-medical photography and to continue to develop her artistic talent by using her photography in the scientific field.

Ellie Lee, January Long Island Scholar Artist

January's Long Island Scholar Artist, Ellie Lee of

January's Long Island Scholar Artist, Ellie Lee of Plainview Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, tells us, "I absolutely love art and I can't imagine myself doing anything else ." She pursues this passion through her role as the Art Editor-in-Chief of her school magazine, as a member of the school's Art Club and as a member of the National Art Honor Society. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed gaining recognition through the Korean-American Youth Art Competition, the Embracing our Differences Art Competition, the Nassau All County Art Exhibition and the Presidential Community Service Award, among others. "Art is something that, to me, is as basic of a need as food and water. I don't know who I would be without it" says Ellie who has plans to continue studying as an art major in college. After college, Ellie expects to pursue art as a career.

The art of Ellie Lee

"Art is something that, to me, is as basic of a need as food and water. I don't know who I would be without it" says Ellie who has plans to continue studying as an art major in college. After college, Ellie expects to pursue art as a career.

Febuary Long Island Scholar Artist, Erin Joy Grgas

Calhoun High Schools' Erin Joy Grgas has proven

Calhoun High Schools' Erin Joy Grgas has proven to be a gifted dancer repeatedly chosen as a stand out artist, having been chosen by the Rockettes to participate in their Summer Intensive every year since 2013. She's been the featured dancer in Roundabout Theater Company's production of Prospect High: Brooklyn at LIHSA, is a member of the American Theater Dance Workshop's Theater Dance Repertory Company and a 2016 member of the LIHSA Dance Company. Wanting to show the scope of her craft, she choreographed Everlasting Jazz which was chosen to be performed at the LIHSA Festival of Dance.

Erin, in performance

Her other performances have also included The Nutcracker,

Her other performances have also included The Nutcracker, Cracked with the Nomad Contemporary Ballet and work with the Leggz Ltd. Dance and the Eglevsky Ballet. Erin has combined both college and high school classes to graduate high school early, and has begun intensive dance training at Steps on Broadway in Manhattan. Her plans include dancing professionally either on Broadway at Radio City with the Rockettes.

February Long Island Scholar Artist, Adam Cordero

When Adam Cordero plays music he says it

When Adam Cordero plays music he says it brings him "inexplicable joy and inspiration." This Herrick's High School student is building his life around music. When not in school Adam has been found in performance at the NAfME All-Eastern Jazz Ensemble, the NYSSMA All-State Jazz Ensemble, performing with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Program, in the Nassau-Suffolk Jazz Ensemble, at the Skidmore Jazz Institute, in the New York Summer Music Festival, working in the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshop and performing in the Berklee High School Jazz Festival. Summers found Adam at the USDAN Centre for the Arts. Other performances, outside of school, include Music For All National Honor Band of America, the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and the Nassau-Suffolk Wind Symphony.

Adam Cordero, in performance.

At Herrick's, Adam has also won the Tri-M

At Herrick's, Adam has also won the Tri-M Outstanding Service Award, and both the Outstanding Freshman and Junior High School Music Awards. After high school he plans on attending a four year conservatory or college and one day working as a jazz musician and educator in New York City.

March Long Island Scholar Artist, Morgan Zweibel

Commack High School's Morgan Zweibel is active both

Commack High School's Morgan Zweibel is active both on and off the stage. Morgan is in the National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Society, history honor society, the French honor society, SADD and is President of Commack High's International Thespian Society. Her stage work is more than performance to her, "Being on stage gives me a way to express myself and connect with other people. I hope my performances impact others to think about their own lives and reflect on what it means to be a part of a community."

Morgan on-stage in Sweet Charity

From the age of five, Morgan has lit-up

From the age of five, Morgan has lit-up the stage starting with a role in Hansel and Gretel, she has carved out more than a decade of performance with roles in My Fair Lady, Sweeney Todd, Sweet Charity, Footloose, Grease, Legally Blonde, and Singing in the Rain. Morgan plans to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Musical Theatre in college.

Bijia Wang is a March Long Island Scholar artist

If you visit local historical locations, you likely

If you visit local historical locations, you likely have seen the art of Syosset High School's Bijia Wang. A gifted artist, her work has been in such notable Long Island locations as the Walt Whitman Birthplace Historic Site, the Long Island Museum and Tilles Center. She is a member of the National Art Honor Society, her school's Mural Club and KEN Literary Art Magazine. Expression through art is where Bijia finds her best self, "I love to paint for it bestows upon me the power of self-expression and allows me to explore the realm of the unknown and defy barriers. I can discover something unique--something mine." That exploration has brought her annual All-County Artist awards.

Tower by Bijia Wang

A volunteer at the Nassau County Museum of

A volunteer at the Nassau County Museum of Art, Bijia is eager to share her talent with others. She participates in fundraisers for the National Art Honor Society, and has created portraits for children around the world through her work with the Memory Project. After high school she plans to attend college and major in Literature and Humanities with an ultimate goal of being a writer, teacher and/or professor

Brooke Shore, April Long Island Scholar Artist

Syosset High School's Brooke Shore finds an outlet

Syosset High School's Brooke Shore finds an outlet for her passion through dance telling us, "My passion has always been dance. My goal is to inspire my audience's emotion and create cathartic experiences through the unspoken word of dance." Trained in both ballet and modern dance at the Berest Dance Center by Paul Taylor principal dancer, Heather Berest, Brooke has amassed regional and national awards and recognition, including a full merit scholarship to the Joffrey Academy of Dance.

April Long Island Scholar Artist, Brooke Shore, Dancer

In the public eye, Brooke has been a

In the public eye, Brooke has been a member of the Lynch Ballet Company and a cast member in the third season of the reality television show, "Dance Moms." Additionally, she is in her high school's dance program and a captain of Syosset's nationally ranked Varsity Kick Line team. Brooke was accepted to the University of Texas at Austin where she will be pursuing a dual degree in dance and special education.

Tateana Khokar, Long Island Scholar Artist for April

Tateana Khokar sees the world of art in

Tateana Khokar sees the world of art in boundless terms saying, "Art is not limited to painting, photography, sculpture and the like, but includes such things as broken sticks and muddy stones that somehow form a composition without having been manipulated by a human." Rainy day skies, decaying leaves, cracked skulls and random shiny rocks serve as inspiration for this Huntington High School senior who strives to push the boundaries of digital art.

The work of April Long Island Scholar Artist, Tateana Khokar

Tateana is Vice President of her school's Art

Tateana is Vice President of her school's Art Honor Society. Her work has had showings in the Long Island's Best exhibition at the Heckscher Museum of Art, the Long Island Media Arts Show, the Suffolk County Art Leaders Association All-County Scholarship Show and at Main Street Gallery in Huntington. Tateana plans to become a working artist.

Sarah Romanelli, May Long Island Scholar Artist

If a high school student could be a

If a high school student could be a "Renaissance Person" Oceanside High School's Sarah Romanelli would be that person. While her joy comes from the theater, she is accomplished in both the arts and the sciences. Sarah has graced the stage with roles in such diverse productions as State Fair, Hair, RENT, Fiddler on the Roof and worked on choreography for no less than five shows at Oceanside High School and Whoopee at the Ziegfeld Society. She has also put her talents to work directing and choreographing the Thespian Revue.

May Long Island Scholar Artist, Sarah Romanelli on-stage

At the same time, Sarah is a member

At the same time, Sarah is a member of the National Honor Society, the World Language Honor Society, the Tri-M Music Honor Society and a Girl Scout Senior Ambassador and Troup Leader. If that's not impressive enough, she also has interned for the past two summers at Columbia University's Center for Cancer Genetics and was named a LI Science and Engineering Fair finalist. This year she has applied for the Siemen's and STS International Science Fairs. Sarah is planning to major in a pre-med program with the hopes of becoming a Pediatric Oncologist.

May Long Island Scholar Artist, Danielle Davis

"My music not only motivates me to dig deeper, but also inspires me to better myself, so that someday I may inspire others," says May Long Island Scholar Artist Daniella Davis. The Baldwin High School musician is no stranger to success. She's been honored with awards from the LIU Post Chamber Music Festival, the Discovery Concert Competition with the Children's Orchestra Society, the Concerto Competition at the LIU Post Chamber Music Festival and the LISMA International Concerto Competition. Daniella is a member of the Tri-M Honor Society, Baldwin High School's National Honor Society, Mathletes and the Superintendent Advisory Council.

On-Stage, May Long Island Scholar Artist, Danielle Davis

Her talent and drive reach beyond school walls

Her talent and drive reach beyond school walls and into her community as well. She's been featured at the Benefit Concert and Reception for the "Youth and Older Persons as City Changers" with the Children's Orchestra Society Elite String Ensemble at the United Nations, the Benefit Concert for victims of Typhoon Haiyan with the Children's Orchestra Society - and at South Nassau Community Hospital performing for patients and staff. Daniella plans to double major in music performance and either neuroscience or biomechanical engineering.

Aimee Ding - June Long Island Scholar Artist

Aimee Ding says she could not imagine her

Aimee Ding says she could not imagine her life without involvement of the arts. The G.W. Hewlett High School senior's passion for her craft includes digital photography, drawing, sculpture and printmaking. The arts have earned Aimee many accolades including being named a 2017 Art Supervisor's Association All-County Scholarship Winner, a 2015 Breakfast Award-Advanced Placement Photography winner and a 2017 Art Supervisor's Association Leadership Award.

The work of Long Island Scholar Artist, Aimee Ding

Her teacher described her as one of the

Her teacher described her as one of the brightest most versatile art students she has seen in all of her 18 years of teaching. Aimee is a leader outside of the art room as well. She's the president of the National Honor Society, Editor of Art and Photo for the Hewlett Spectrum Newspaper, the Vice President of the Environmental Club and a member of the National Spanish Honor Society. In college she plans to study communications design.

Isabella Brand, Long Island Scholar Artist

"To me, art is everything," says Isabella Brand, a senior at Ward Melville High School. Isabella is a multi-faceted artist who explores many different mediums, such as painting, sculpture, pen and ink, mixed media and graphic. Her artwork is colorful and demonstrates the many techniques she has learned over the years. Isabella's art has been displayed locally at the Spring into Art Show in Stony Brook Village, her school's Art and Technology Building Show, and at the Art League of Long Island's April Strolling Gallery and "Go Ape" Advanced Placement Art Show.

The work of Long Island Scholar Artist, Isabella Brand

An extremely focused student who sets high standards

An extremely focused student who sets high standards for herself, Isabella is president of the Ward Melville Ceramics Club, a member of the National Honor Society and vice president of the Ward Melville Art Honor Society. Asked how art has shaped her, she states, "My artwork has guided me into becoming who I am. I wouldn't be the person I am today if I didn't have art in my life." Isabella plans to pursue a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree and hopes one day to open her own art studio.

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