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2020-21 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. To learn more visit: http://longislandartsalliance.org/

Long Island Scholar Artist for June, Emily Howell

Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School standout  Emily

Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School standout Emily Howell finds her passion in two areas: the French horn and writing music.

"Being exposed to a diverse repertoire motivates me to expand my musical palate and allows me to express myself through composing and performing," she says.

A three-sport athlete in basketball, volleyball and softball, Emily is part of the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra and Chamber Horn Trio, Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra, New York All-State Wind Ensemble, among other groups. She serves as the student body vice president and is a crucial member of the Tri-M Music, Spanish and National honor societies. 

Emily Howell, Musician

"In today's unsettling times, it is music that

"In today's unsettling times, it is music that I look to for comfort," says Emily. "Whether I am performing virtually or in-person, I am able to express myself through my horn playing."

Music is two-fold for Emily. You can see her singing the "National Anthem" at local events and in the pit orchestra on French horn for the high school.

"Music has an emotional role and influential presence; It is a vehicle for communication," Emily says. "It is an art of sound that expresses emotions, thoughts, and ideas through harmonies, rhythms, and melody: the ultimate universal language that speaks to everyone."

Emily plans to major in French horn and study at the graduate level with a goal of being part of a professional orchestra.

June Long Island Scholar Artist, Kelly Ryan

The small details for  Kelly Ryan drive

The small details for Kelly Ryan drive her passion for art. At Hicksville High School, she works to perfect the minutiae.

"I find my creative inspiration in nature," says Kelly. "Often, when I'm outside, I'll notice details and colors that I want to explore through painting. I spend time visiting places on Long Island that are meaningful to me, where I find much of my inspiration."

Kelly was selected for Heckscher Museum's "Long Island's Best Exhibit" last year and has hosted exhibits at the IKEA Student Artist Exhibition, Art Supervisor Association: All County Art Exhibition and Hicksville Public Library.

"Throughout my life, art has been incredibly important for me," Kelly says. "Through art I have the ability to capture scenes that are meaningful to me and express them in my own way."

The Art of Kelly Ryan

Kelly's work has dipped into charitable endeavors. She

Kelly's work has dipped into charitable endeavors. She made bowls for Empty Bowls, an internationally recognized brand bringing awareness to the need of feeding the hungry on a local level, and T-shirts for Talent for the Troops, an event that raised funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.

"As I plan each piece, I experiment with texture, color, and brushstrokes to express the feeling and emotion I want to convey to the viewer," she says.

Kelly has applied to several colleges, including the School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute, Adelphi University, Massachusetts College of Art and design and Fashion Institute of Technology. She plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in art.

Long Island Scholar Artist, Cindy Wang

Drawing for Cindy Wang is fluid. There isn't

Drawing for Cindy Wang is fluid. There isn't one set theme or idea that puts her off on a given path.

"Most of the time, I just draw whatever I like or find interesting," says the Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School student. "Sometimes it's to express an emotion or to get across an idea, but in general, I mainly just like the actual act of drawing itself."

Cindy finds more inspiration from places she's seen, random ideas that come to mind, work from artists that she admires, personal interests, movies, shows, games and other forms of media. Her work won "Best in Show" at the Long Island Media Arts Show at 5 Towns in 2019 before nabbing an underclassman award in computer graphics in 2020. She's an exhibiting artist for the Nassau All-County Art Exhibit.

The Work of Cindy Wang

A member of the Tri-M and National Honor

A member of the Tri-M and National Honor societies, Cindy tutored piano before the coronavirus pandemic hit Long Island. She is also a recent exhibitor at the Nightmare on Main Street for the Huntington Arts Council.

"My art and style change all the time; in all honesty, I feel like the portfolio I submitted while applying to be a Scholar Artist is already outdated and doesn't reflect the art I'm creating now almost a year later," Cindy says. "In that respect, maybe my art reflects the person I was whenever I created it?"

Long Island Scholar Artist, Isabella Craven

Dance for Isabella Craven runs deep within her

Dance for Isabella Craven runs deep within her soul. It helps her face challenging moments.

"Ballet has always been my outlet for an escape from bullying," says the Half Hollow Hills East High School student. "I've been able to completely release my emotions and pain and find peace."

Isabella is a leader for Project Girls, an all-girls Christian mentorship and community service program that teaches female etiquette, healthy lifestyles and relationships, responsibility, confidence and courage. She's also a company member of Lynch Ballet Company, where she performed in annual classic ballets such as "The Nutcracker," "Don Quixote," and "Swan Lake." The standout dancer attended several prestigious ballet intensives, including the American Ballet Theatre in Manhattan, Florida and Alabama, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, The Rock School for Dance Education in Pennsylvania and The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory in Connecticut.

Isabella Craven, Dancer/Choreographer

She recently choreographed a contemporary-ballet solo entitled "Emergence"

She recently choreographed a contemporary-ballet solo entitled "Emergence" for her Works in Progress class and Student Showcase at the Long Island High School for the Arts. It follows a self-discovery journey through bullying as she dances to "Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor" by Frederic Chopin and "The Arena" by Lindsey Stirling.

"There's no greater feeling like pouring my heart out to a piece of music while letting the rest of the world disappear before me," says the National Dance Honor Society vice president.

Isabella applied to Hunter College, New York University for Nutrition, Marymount Manhattan College and the Steps Conservatory at Steps on Broadway for Dance.

Long Island Scholar Artist, Shaakirah Nazim-Harris

The stage for  Shaakirah Nazim-Harris is all

The stage for Shaakirah Nazim-Harris is all about excitement. Whether it's for Amityville High School or for Long Island High School for the Arts, nothing else matters.

"Performing on stage brings me immense joy," she says. "All of my worries evaporate from my body when I am on stage. Knowing that I can make audience members and myself happy simultaneously makes me feel like I have superpowers. Performing is my superpower."

Since 2016, she has volunteered at the Long Island Developmental Disabilities Service Office in Hauppauge, singing for adults with developmental disabilities during Black History Month. Shaakirah has been the assistant director and head choreographer of Drama Club since 2018 and a National Honor Society member since 2017. 

Shaakira Nazim-Harris On-Stage

Annually, starting in 2018, Shaakirah performed "The National

Annually, starting in 2018, Shaakirah performed "The National Anthem" at Crest Hollow Country Club. She also performed "God Bless America" at an event for the Town of Babylon. Recently, she participated in the Justice 4 Floyd live stream and in "Shrek The Musical" at the high school.

Shaakirah plans to study musical theatre and earn a bachelor's degree in fine arts. She sees the stage in her future after college.

"I plan on continuing to work on my craft and pursuing my passion," Shaakirah says. "As long as I am on stage doing what I love, my post-college plans would have been successful." 

Long Island Scholar Artist, Robert Montano

Singing for  Robert Montano comes from deep

Singing for Robert Montano comes from deep within his soul. He puts everything into each lyric.

"I find all of my creative inspiration through real-life events as well as myself and others," Robert of Centereach High School says. "I believe songs written come best from personal experience, as well as true emotions. I also receive inspiration off of other's wisdom."

He nabbed a supporting role in the "The Many Saints of Newark," a prequel to the hit HBO show "The Sopranos," and held principal roles in Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular for three years. Robert also performed in Disney's High School Musical at Theatre Row in 2018. 

An all-state tenor for Centereach in 2019, Robert volunteered as a music teacher helping children with special needs at the Music Academy for Special Learners. The men's choir standout also performed at the pediatric oncology center at Stony Brook University Hospital. He was recently heard during "Sunday Sounds" at the Centereach Public Library. 

Robert Montano, On-Stage

"Art to me is a way of life,"

"Art to me is a way of life," Robert says. "It allows you to see the world in a way unimaginable. It is my passion and what I love to do, and I am always looking for ways to improve and better myself."

Robert recently won a Five Towns College Summer Program Award for audio and guitar. He plans to study theater and music performance, with a minor in law, and wants to attend are Pace University, Ithaca College, or USC in California.

Robert wants to perform on Broadway, become a professional recording artist, or act in TV and films.

March Long Island Scholar Artist, Jessie Grill

A dancer since an early age, Jessie Grill

A dancer since an early age, Jessie Grill credits her success to the team aspect of the craft. At Half Hollow Hills East High School, she considers dance as a means for inspiration.

Jessie holds memberships in the National Honor Society, the Art Club, Art, Science and Spanish honor societies. She's the current president of the Spanish Club.

"Dance has been an amazing creative outlet for me through the years," says Jessie. "I take a very demanding course load and engage in a lot of time-consuming extracurricular activities, such as the tennis team. For the hours I am at dance, I can be myself, practice my craft and spend time with my team, a group of girls that I consider my sisters."

Jessie Grill, On-Stage

Jessie serves as an assistant for JAM Girls,

Jessie serves as an assistant for JAM Girls, a dance team for people with special needs. She co-teaches a weekly dance class and appears with the team during yearly recitals.

"Dance gives you a way to track your achievements in a very concrete manner," Jessie says. "Advancing in dance has given me confidence in so many areas of my life and I'm so happy to have been involved in dance for all these years."

Jessie is currently applying to colleges and plans to major in marketing and communications. She hopes to be a member of a dance club and team after high school.

March Long Island Scholar Artist Alena Moreira

Music and painting for Valley Stream North High

Music and painting for Valley Stream North High School student Alena Moreira go hand in hand in with her skillset. One compliments the other, with music providing an extra level of realism.

"I love telling stories, both grand and subtle, with my art, and music provides me with the motivation to create," Alena says. "Music can tell a story, emanate emotions, or both, and since I see art as a way to anchor these ideas/feelings to reality, music is often my choice for artistic inspiration.

"Alena's work shined in the Visual Arts Olympics, working with a team to win second place in 2018 and first place in 2019 in the painting category. She showcased her work at the Port Washington Art Guild, the Huntington Art Council and Heckscher Museum, among other accolades.

"To me, art means the actualization of dreams and emotions," says Alena. "Art brings to life the unseen: when we can see our goals, we can make them come true, and when we (emotionally) connect with our art, we can feel a little less alone.

"Alena in 2019 volunteered for the Summer Courtyard Project, painting chairs and tables on weekdays, and participated in the Community Orchestra in ninth-through 11th-grade. In winter 2018 and spring 2019, Alena shined in the Rockaway-Five Towns Symphony Orchestra.

Alena plans to study mechanical or mechatronics engineering, possibly in conjunction with art studies, in college

The Art of Alena Moriera

"To me, art means the actualization of dreams

"To me, art means the actualization of dreams and emotions," says Alena. "Art brings to life the unseen: when we can see our goals, we can make them come true, and when we (emotionally) connect with our art, we can feel a little less alone.

"Alena in 2019 volunteered for the Summer Courtyard Project, painting chairs and tables on weekdays, and participated in the Community Orchestra in ninth-through 11th-grade. In winter 2018 and spring 2019, Alena shined in the Rockaway-Five Towns Symphony Orchestra.

Alena plans to study mechanical or mechatronics engineering, possibly in conjunction with art studies, in college.

Long Island Scholar Artist, Vincent Gerardi

Life in motion is what inspires Vincent Gerardi

Life in motion is what inspires Vincent Gerardi on stage. It helps him dig deep into his character to discover the nuances of acting.

"Theater is a way to document the world around us, and I find inspiration all around me," says the Hauppauge High School student. "Anything, from how I see someone hustling to get to work or the way my friends tell funny stories, can provide an idea or behavior that can be carried into work.

"Vincent was named a Roger Rees Up and Coming Actor in 2019 and 2020, performed in "Broadway Back to School," and shined for the Thespian All-Star Company. A standout for the Educational Theatre Foundation, Vincent mentors young actors for the high school's drama club and is a member of the National English Honor Society, the International Thespian Society, plus the Hauppauge Wind Ensemble and Tri-M Music Honor Society.

Vincent Gerardi On-Stage

"For me, theater is a way to try

"For me, theater is a way to try to understand the human experience," says Vincent. "It has allowed me to become a more empathetic person as I am forced to think about life through someone else's lens."

Vincent wants to work in many different mediums, including musicals, plays, film and writing. His goal is to create art that "is impactful and something people can connect with." He plans to study musical theater in college.

"I am so grateful for Hauppauge's support of arts education, which has allowed me and so many other students to experience the joy of theater," he says.

Long Island Scholar Artist, Emma Romano

Photography for Emma Romano showcases life experience. She

Photography for Emma Romano showcases life experience. She captures moments in time as an outlet of self-expression to project a sense of realism."I've explored my relationship with society, identity and relationships through photography," says the Oceanside High School student.

Emma's work can be seen in the Heckscher Art Museum and was the "Director's Pick" at the Anton Art Center's Juried Worldwide Exhibit. She was a recipient of the Scholastic Art and Writing Silver Key in 2019 and 2020.

Emma created "Humans of Oceanside," where she takes Oceanside High students' portraits and shares their stories. Inspired by the popular social media channel "Humans of New York," Emma created these accounts to show the faces behind the student body.

The work of Emma Romano

"Photography is important to me because it allows

"Photography is important to me because it allows me to remember life's experiences and emotions," says Emma. "Looking back at my photographs warms me with a feeling of nostalgia. There's much more behind the frame captured."

She's a Mu Alpha Theta (a math honor society) and a World Language Honor Society member.

Emma plans to study biochemistry and attend medical school with a focus on oncology. "My family is extremely supportive of my artistic endeavors," says Emma. "I also love photography because my art magnifies my voice of expression. There's a sense of creativity and freedom that arises with art."

Long Island Scholar Artist for January, Kyle Pinzon

The cello for Kyle Pinzon is everything. With

The cello for Kyle Pinzon is everything. With a little nudge from mom at an early age, the Herricks High School student feels the four-stringed instrument has become part of his identity.

"I draw inspiration for interpretation of music through both the story of the composer and my own life," Kyle says. "Classical music and performance of music are all about expressing a message, story, or emotion to the audience."

Kyle performed at the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Music Competition and the Marion Feldman Endowed Precollege Cello Scholarship Recital in 2019 and 2020. He also performed in a benefit concert series in Manhattan that helped raise $6,000 to support the fight against gun violence and shined at the All-County and Long Island music festivals from 2014-2018.

Cellist, Kyle Pinzon

"As a player, my music is merely a

"As a player, my music is merely a vehicle to deliver the soul of the music to the heart of the listener," he says. "So, when I play, I try and deliver the composer's message as best as I can, using experiences in my own life to play with even greater conviction.

"Outside of music, Kyle swims for the Highlanders at the high school and holds memberships in the Model UN, Korean Culture Club, as well as the Gardening Club and serves in Student Government. A Quiz Bowl member since 2018, he plans to pursue a degree in chemistry and musical performance.

January Long Island Scholar Artist, Nicole Niyazov

The creativity in dance for Nicole Niyazov comes

The creativity in dance for Nicole Niyazov comes from upbringing. She points to her parent's past as an avenue for her development as a dancer.

"I channel most of my creative inspiration from my family," says the Commack High School student. "Learning about how both of my immigrant parents came to this country with only the clothing on their backs and have worked tirelessly for the lives they live today is beyond captivating in my eyes.

"Nicole took top honors in the KAR and World Class Talent Experience Dance competitions and the Revolution Dance Competition in 2017 and 2018. She followed up with a 2019 campaign, including a first-place win in the StarQuest Dance Competition and a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School Spectrum Summer Intensive.

Nicole Niyazov on-stage

"I view dance as a platform where myself

"I view dance as a platform where myself and other dancers obtain the opportunity to share a story through motion, almost as if it were a movie," says Nicole. "However, in a movie, there is verbal dialogue. Within a choreographed routine, the dialect of choice is movement. The versatility of movement is what conveys the story to the audience watching the performed piece.

"Nicole taught dance to young children at East Coast Dance Center and volunteered at MSG's Garden of Dreams for three years. She plans to enter the medical field as a pediatrician after college.

"Dance has helped me discover my passion for health and has also revealed the joy I have working with children while I student-teach dance classes," she says.

Long Island Scholar Artist, Erika Lopez

Art for Erika Lopez is about each color.

Art for Erika Lopez is about each color. For the Plainview-Old Bethpage High School student, it's a way for her to think outside the box.

"I find my creative inspiration through breaking down the colors, lines, and shapes that make up the world around us to create something beautiful," she says.

Creating beauty has won Erika underclassman awards in 2019 and 2020 and exhibitions at the Nassau County Art Museum and the Heckscher Museum of Art. Locally, you can see her work adorning Mario's Pizzeria in her neighborhood.

Most recently, Erika donated work to the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library, which will be used in a local history project documenting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Art of Erika Lopez

"My art is a way for me to

"My art is a way for me to experiment freely and push myself to strive for my goals both artistically and academically," she says. "I use my artistic voice to express myself and my creativity."

Erika is a key member of the Images Club, Fashion Club as well as the National Art, Science and Spanish honor societies.

"I am honored and grateful to have been given this recognition [of Scholar-Artist] and I would like to thank all of my art teachers for helping me throughout high school and most of all my parents for all of their love and support," she says.

Erika plans to study biology and attend dental school.

December Long Island Scholar Artist, Anna Mezzatesta

Creativity for Anna Mezzatesta isn't cut and dry.

Creativity for Anna Mezzatesta isn't cut and dry. It has to imbue a layered personality and be void of shallowness in her photography.

"I find my creative inspiration from things that seem mysterious to me," says the Bellport High School student. "I like complicated and sometimes the most simplistic things have a much more deeper meaning."

Anna's work can be seen at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. She works to capture the unique and abstract through photography.

"Photography is a way for me to express myself," she says. "I love being able to capture different perspectives through an image. My favorite things to shoot are flowers/nature and portraits."

The Photography of Anna Mezzatesta

Anna's heavily involved in the Italian Club, Book

Anna's heavily involved in the Italian Club, Book Club and Yearbook Club at the high school and serves as the 2021 class treasurer. She's also been named to the Science, Math and Art honor societies, plus the National Honor Society.

"Because of the arts I've been able to express my emotions in a completely different way and build stronger relationships with others," she says. "Photography has allowed me to show others the beauty I find in the world."

Anna plans to attend a four-year college after high school and study nursing. She wants to become a travel nurse, living in new cities every few months.

 

"Eventually, I'd like to become a nurse practitioner," says Anna.

Olivia Freiberger, Long Island Scholar Artist

Acting on stage for Olivia Freiberger goes back

Acting on stage for Olivia Freiberger goes back to her days as a child. There's nothing more satisfying for the Harborfields High School student than putting a smile on a theatergoer's face.

"Since I was a [little] girl, all I've wanted to do is help others," she says. "To me, theater is a means to achieve that. If I can make them forget their troubles for a while, it means everything to me.

Olivia has been a member of the Harborfields Theater Company and Harborfields Kickline since her freshman year. She tries to "find creative inspiration in everything. I am always looking to find things that make my heart skip a beat, things that motivate me to get up and create."

Long Island Scholar Artist, Olivia Freiberger, On-Stage

Olivia performed in the Town of Oyster Bay

Olivia performed in the Town of Oyster Bay Christmas Show under Lynda Cache, including two Rockette-inspired routines: a kickline number and a version of "The March of the Wooden Soldiers." She also performed with the John W. Engeman Theater's Northport Select Players at Feinstein's 54 Below as a soloist.

Olivia was selected to intern at BAE Systems last September, an aeronautical engineering company, as part of its Women in Technology program. "It is a highly selective program, in which we learned about the inequity in the engineering field and how there is a severe lack of women engineers," she says.

Olivia is pursuing a degree in musical theatre and will continue her journey to become an actress after high school.

Evan Cheng, Long Island Scholar Artist

The violin serves as an escape for Evan

The violin serves as an escape for Evan Cheng. It's a way for him to enjoy the moment. He calls it a "return to the old school in a rapidly modernizing world."

"Much of my creative inspiration stems from wanting to find a corner in my life free from modern stresses," the Syosset High School standout says.

Evan founded the Musical Relief program through the high school, which provides more than 60 free music lessons per week to students in the United States and Asia, with donations going toward various charities. He likes to help others and feels indebted to students that worked to launch the program.

 

Long Island Scholar Artist, Evan Cheng in-performance

"I teach six violin lessons a week and

"I teach six violin lessons a week and genuinely enjoy spreading my passion for classical music," he says.

Evan took first place in the Manolov International Music Competition in 2019 and was a First Award Winner in the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Competition this year, among other accolades. He's an accomplished fencer and is a member of the Chamber Music Club, Tri-M National Music Honor Society and the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra.

"When I grow sick of the obscene amounts of homework I'm assigned, all I have to do is go downstairs and my violin is waiting there patiently for me to pick up," he says.

Evan interned at Stony Brook University Hospital's Department of Radiology in 2018 and the Department of Cell Biology in 2019 before working in the Garcia Center for Polymers at Engineered Interfaces in 2020. He plans to study neurobiology but sees music as a part of his future. 

 

 

Juliet Marinello, October Long Island Scholar Artist

Ballet for  Juliet Marinello is rooted in

Ballet for Juliet Marinello is rooted in inspiration. The Huntington High School student attended performances of the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center regularly and feels those dance numbers help craft her next moves.

"I have always been inspired by the dancer's artistic expression, the lively music, and the beautiful costumes," says Juliet.

Juliet could be seen as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Lynch Ballet Company's annual performance of "The Nutcracker" and performed at many nursing homes across Long Island. Juliet also shined in "Romanza" and "Excelsis" for Manhattan's Ballet Academy East. She won merit scholarships at the Houston Ballet, Ballet West and Pacific Northwest Ballet summer intensives over the last two years.

Long Island Scholar Artist, Juliet Marinello, On-Stage

Juliet feels the challenge of ballet has made

Juliet feels the challenge of ballet has made her a stronger person and that there's always room for improvement. She was an American Ballet Theatre National Training Scholar for two years. 

"Ballet has always been a way for me to express myself through movement," says the English, science and social studies national honor society member. "The gift of this art form is bringing pleasure to an audience as they view the grace and emotion conveyed through dance and music."

Juliet sees the arts as a part of her everyday life after high school. "I plan on auditioning for several college dance programs, and I would like to be a dual major in ballet performance and English," she says.

October Long Island Scholar Artist, Ariane Lee

Ideas come to  Ariane Lee based on

Ideas come to Ariane Lee based on real events and other artists. The Syosset High School All-County Artist loves to study "artists with unique styles" and gets inspired to draw new pieces that have a sense of realism and offer a commentary on "what's now."

Ariane hopes those that see her work interpret them as a call to action, "since most of my works have something to do with social or political issues." Drawing is also a way for her to connect with others.

"For me, art has always been a form of communication," she says. "When I was younger, I used to do things like draw portraits and fold paper arts for family members. It was a way for me to tell them I loved them."

The work of Scholar Artist, Ariane Lee

Ariane holds the title of the school's Model

Ariane holds the title of the school's Model Congress president, National Honor Society secretary and a Forensics Speech and Debate member, among other posts. She won the Scholastic Gold Key this year, the Silver Key in 2017 and 2020, was named a Celebrating High Merit Award Artist in 2019.

Ariane is still deciding on a career path but knows art will play a part in her future. She plans to major in political science with a pre-med track.

 "Lately, I have been heavily considering cosmetic dermatology," she says. "There's definitely an artistic/aesthetic aspect to the job, but it still allows me to explore my interest in science."

Alexandra Donach, September Long Island Scholar Artist

The stage for  Alexandra Donach is a

The stage for Alexandra Donach is a second home. No moment is too big or small for the Syosset High School thespian.

"My art means everything to me," says Alexandra, the Syosset High School Adelettes president. "Musical theatre is my entire life, it has shaped me into the person I am today, and it motivates me to be the best I can be as both a person and as an artist."

As supporting lead and dance captain in the Syosset Theatre Arts production of "Godspell," "The Little Mermaid," "Mamma Mia!" among other plays, Alexandra hones her skills by observing "very carefully the way an actor behaves." She was inducted into the International Thespian Society in 2019.

Alexandra sang with the Adelettes at the local Christmas Tree Lighting for the last two years and regularly performed at the Northport VA during the holidays. Notably, she served as a featured soloist with the Syosset High School Chamber Singers at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Long Island Scholar Artist, Alexandra Donach, on-stage

"I find creative inspiration from watching other actors
Credit: Walter Donach

"I find creative inspiration from watching other actors work, whether that be watching a performance on Broadway, or watching a TV show or movie," she says.

Alexandra is on track to graduate with thespian honors and plans to pursue a degree in musical theatre, with a goal of performing on Broadway. 

"I am currently in the process of submitting prescreens, auditioning, and applying to a multitude of musical theatre programs," says Alexandra. "Some of the top schools on my list are Baldwin Wallace, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Pace University and Boston Conservatory."

Gianna Tantillo, September Long Island Scholar Artist

Photography and dance define  Gianna Tantillo and

Photography and dance define Gianna Tantillo and her imagination. The Half Hollow East High School standout's determination is indicative of her success.

"My creative inspiration comes when I am not thinking about what to photograph or ideas for a new shoot," Gianna says. "Ideas pop in my head when I least expect it and it instantly becomes my goal to bring my ideas to life in a photograph."

Gianna's talents extend beyond the lens. She and the high school dance team won the Golden Ticket Award, an exclusive invitation to the Starpower World Championships. Gianna also helped coordinate Students Rebuild at Half Hollow Hills, a challenge encouraging students to submit artwork in exchange for donations to global causes.

Gianna's eye for photography looks beneath the surface of a given subject. The Dixette Kickline Team captain is "constantly looking for different combinations of models, props, and shoot locations that can express whatever meaning I am looking to convey."

The work of Gianna Tantillo

Her talents were featured at the high school's

Her talents were featured at the high school's end of the year art show, the Half Hollow Hills Art Show, before winning the Distinguished Youth Award three years in a row. 

"Being a portrait focused photographer, I would be nowhere without my friends who are constantly willing and excited to follow my, sometimes, crazy instructions behind the lens to make my ideas come to life," she says.

Gianna, a Student Government and National Honor Society class president, is considering medical school and will continue to pursue her love of the arts. "I am still exploring college options, but I plan to major in the sciences and since art is a way of life for me, I will be exploring photography and dance as a minor," says Gianna.

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