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2019-20 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, Kristen Flynn

Garden City High School standout Kristen Flynn's fascination

Garden City High School standout Kristen Flynn's fascination with photography can be traced back to a seldom-used process from yesteryear: film developing.

"Being able to trust my skills as a photographer has allowed me to take risks and not be fearful of failure," says the All-County photographer. "I believe my inspiration also stems from my ability to have a unique perspective on simple objects in order to create a captivating story. For example, by simply shifting my position to focus on a particular aspect of the image, I am able to create a dynamic piece."

The photography of Kristen Flynn

Kristen's work has been featured in The Garden

Kristen's work has been featured in The Garden City Historical Society's Art Contest and she has volunteered her time during the high school's Senior Tea Party. Sports photography, specifically her brother's baseball games, gives Kristen a chance to "capture special moments" and is "a very rewarding and fulfilling experience."

A member of the National Honor Society for Spanish, Kristen is also a key contributor to the Yearbook Club.

"Photography is a powerful tool of expression as it dynamically involves not only the photographer but the audience as well," she says. "The conclusions that are drawn upon and the stories created from a piece of art is derived by the receiving audience, which allows everyone to have a subjective view of artwork."

Kristen is weighing college options but plans to pursue photography in some capacity, calling it "a true passion of mine."

Tyler Phelan, Long Island Scholar Artist

Tyler Phelan's love of dance is all about

Tyler Phelan's love of dance is all about movement. The Walt Whitman High School student is able to express himself when words don't do his emotions justice.

"It is nice to be able to let out all my emotions like frustration and stress through such an amazing and expressive art form," says the five-time World Dance Competition champion.

Tyler took first place at the Starpower National Competition three times and twice won a scholarship to Power Pak, an invite-only dance intensive, where students work with dance professionals and perform with Marinda Davis in Ocean City, Maryland. His teachers had a profound effect on his dance development.

"My dance teacher in school, Susan Radin, has inspired me to strengthen my technique and develop choreographic skills," says Tyler. He also names instructors Dina Rizzi, Janine Scott and Jessica Cremmins from Huntington Station's Don't Stop Dancin' as instrumental in his dance career.

Long Island Scholar Artist, Tyler Phelan on-stage

Tyler volunteers at Don't Stop Dancin' where he

Tyler volunteers at Don't Stop Dancin' where he teaches proper technique and discipline to young dancers.  

"[My teachers] stress the importance of working within a group and allow me to pursue all my dreams and aspirations," he says.

Tyler served as the dance captain of Whitman's productions of "Annie" and "Mary Poppins" and held the assistant director title on "Noises Off" and "Clue." He's a four-year student government officer and was inducted into the National Honor Society last year.

Tyler plans to major in biochemistry and minor in psychology with a goal of attending Northeastern, Georgetown or Villanova. He dreams of becoming a medicinal chemist or pharmacist and is considering medical school to become a doctor.

Long Island Scholar Artist, Sarah Winkler

New Hyde Park native Sarah Winkler feels music

New Hyde Park native Sarah Winkler feels music is a rock to lean on, a skill that's always evolving and a means of expression other things can't reproduce.

"Music is my every breath, motion, and heartbeat," says the Herricks High School student. "Singing transports me to a world where true emotion is valued and no obstacle is too large to overcome."

A member of the All-State Treble Choir and winner of the Freshman Music Award, Sarah performed with the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Opera Showcase and at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Radio City Music Hall with the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra. She's a four-year member of the Tri-M National Honor Society.

Sarah Winkler, in performance

"No matter what I am going through in my life, singing is a constant that helps me escape from the often-overwhelming world we live in," she says. "Singing has given me the ability to express myself in ways that words fall short."

Sarah can be seen singing during services at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock and for the Herricks Chamber Choir at the Amsterdam Senior Living Center.

"I am beyond grateful for the love that this art has let me feel, and I plan on spending the rest of my life spreading this love to others through song," says Sarah.

Sarah plans to double major in music and neuroscience after high school, with a goal of attending medical school.

 

Long Island Scholar Artist, Tiffany Wu

Syosset High School senior Ti­ffany Wu sees her

Syosset High School senior Ti­ffany Wu sees her future in skyscrapers. She plans to become an architect. "Architecture encompasses many of my passions and interests, integrating all of them towards my ultimate goal of becoming an architect," says the Long Island Scholar-Artist.

For Ti­ffany, art allows her to "explore myself, people and my surroundings" while giving her a point of reference for a career.

"I feel that the most rewarding moment of creating art is when it has the power to impact others, the way physical space can influence the people who occupy it," she says.

"Machinations", by Long Island Scholar Artist, Tiffany Wu

Ti­ffany attended weekly classes at the Parsons School

Ti­ffany attended weekly classes at the Parsons School of Design as part of the Pre-College Academy Certificate Program, including the areas of architecture, interior design, fine arts and graphic design. Her work was featured at the annual National Arts Honor Society Collaborative Art Installation at the Heckscher Museum of Art, the Syosset Annual District Art Exhibit and her high school's architecture showcase. She was named Student Artist of the Month by the school district in 2019 and showcased her art at the Go APE Advanced Placement Exhibition at the Art League of Long Island's Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery.

Ti­ffany plans to major in architecture in college. "[Art] is a way of reflection and reasoning that helps me and others understand the world in many di­fferent ways," she says.

 

December Long Island Scholar Artist, Angelina Mercurio

The human connection helps Angelina Mercurio get inspired

The human connection helps Angelina Mercurio get inspired when getting ready for a performance on stage. The Long Island Scholar-Artist for December and Hauppauge High School student "derives my creative inspiration from the people I encounter every day."

Angelina frequently performs for the high school and at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. She wowed crowds as Fantine in "Les Misérables" this past spring and is in HHS's current production of "The Dining Room."

Scholar Artist, Angelina Mercurio, on-stage

"Theater is so much about real human connections and seeing how people interact and respond to one another tunes me into human nature," says Angelina.

Angelina is a key contributor to the school's Chamber Choir and took home Most Outstanding Vocalist in 2018. She serves as the group's section leader and holds memberships to the National Honor Society, Drama Club and is the current International Thespian Society vice president.

"The fact that I'm able to go on stage, feel things and express those feelings is one of the most overwhelmingly amazing things about my life," Angelina says.

Angelina plans to major in musical theater after high school. "There is nothing else on this entire planet I would rather do than musical theater, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunities I have been granted and the people I have been able to meet," she says.

 

December Long Island Scholar Artist, Isabel Chen

The camera lens for Isabel Chen is an

The camera lens for Isabel Chen is an escape. She finds the craft serves as a form of infinite expression.

"My photography is a way for me to create the scenarios that I dream of in my head," says the Valley Stream North High School student.

A Franklin Square resident, Isabel's work was showcased at the GOAPE Exhibit this year and honored for excellence in photography. The camera helps Isabel channel her emotions into any given photo shoot.

 

The work of Isabel Chen

"Photography is also a way for me to deal with my emotions on my own, almost like how a dancer can express themselves through their elegant, flowing or sharp, rigid movements," she says. "Sort of how 'when you're a kid, you color with reckless abandon. You color outside the lines. You color however you feel. Blue elephants, purple trees, red bears, green oceans -- it's all good... whether you actually paint or whether you write or sing or act or direct,'" she says, quoting Wordsmith's "Blue Elephants."

Isabel serves as vice president of the National Honor Society and holds memberships to the Science and Tri-M societies while participating in the Ecology and Drama clubs.

"It's an incredible opportunity [to be] one of Long Island's scholar artists, and I hope that I will be able to exhibit the world through my eyes to more individuals," says Isabel. Isabel plans to major in music and business and continue her photography work after college.

 

November Long Island Scholar Artist, Julianne Lampert

Julianne Lampert might be a different person today

Julianne Lampert might be a different person today had she not discovered art.

"I truly would not be the person I am today without [it]," she says. "It has been a part of my life since I was little."

The first Long Island Scholar-Artist for Lynbrook High School, Julianne won All-County Art Awards and the National Art Honor Society Service and Merit Award in 2016 and 2019.

"[Art] has taught me endless lessons, like that hard work always pays in the end and that there is beauty to be seen everywhere if you look hard enough," says Julianne.
 

The work of Scholar Artist, Julianne Lampert

She has been featured in Lynbrook's Class Night

She has been featured in Lynbrook's Class Night Competition for three straight years and painted sets for school plays and musicals. A recent portrait named Memory Project has garnered many accolades for depicting a child from a disadvantaged community in South America.

"I bring art into everything that I do, and I am a better person for it," Julianne says.

She is a member of national honor societies for art, math, science and is a team member of the Robotics and Women in STEM clubs.

"I find inspiration in both artists from history and modern artists," she says. "I love visiting museums and finding artists on Instagram." Julianne will apply to research-oriented schools with plans to double major in chemistry and art/art history. While pursuing a Ph.D., she will look to combine her interests in art and science.
 

November Long Island Scholar Artist, Emily Gershowitz

Emily Gershowitz puts her soul into dance, which

Emily Gershowitz puts her soul into dance, which is evident in the 20 hour-a-week sessions she fits around classwork. The Half Hollow Hills East High School student feels dancing is made up of "perseverance, dedication, blood, sweat, tears, joy...all wrapped up in one."

Emily draws insight from her teachers, specifically Frank Ohman, who passed away recently. He continues to be a sounding board with "his words of wisdom in my head every time I dance." 

Emily has been performing with the New York Dance Theatre's annual production of The Nutcracker at Hofstra University since age 10. She was presented with the Oberlin College Book Award in the spring, which goes to a high school junior.
 

Emily Gershowitz, Dancer

Emily can be seen volunteering at Dancing Dreams,

Emily can be seen volunteering at Dancing Dreams, an organization that provides dance classes to children with medical and physical challenges. She also plays the violin for the Hills East's symphony orchestra, is active in the photography club, the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, and serves as an executive board member of the National Honor Society.

"It is incredibly rewarding to share my love of dance with someone who would not ordinarily have the opportunity to partake in such an activity," Emily says of Dancing Dreams.

Emily is applying to colleges with reputable dance departments and plans to continue her ballet training. 
 

October Long Island Scholar Artist, Sara Gorelkin

The stage for Sara Gorelkin is a second

The stage for Sara Gorelkin is a second home. She calls her production work "an outlet to express my emotions," and, for every play, the Long Island Scholar-Artist for October puts "a piece of myself in every set." She dedicated this honor to her late father, Jason.

"I find my creative inspiration from the world around me," the Syosset High School student says. "Our physical environment, along with our social climate, influences my work greatly and are often my artistic muses. I also find inspiration from my fellow theatre artists. In many instances, speaking with actors and actresses and hearing their perceptions of certain ideas allows me to think from different viewpoints."
 

The work of Sara Gorelkin

Sara has worked on top stage productions for

Sara has worked on top stage productions for Syosset since her sophomore year, whether it be through designing, crew work, or managing. Some of Sara's set designs could be seen in multiple Syosset productions, including "Mamma Mia," "The Dream of the Burning Boy," and her Nassau County Legislative Award for work in "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella."

"My ideas are sparked by my feelings, and so my art is a means for expressiveness," she says.

She also holds significant memberships in Syosset High School's Association of Creative Thespians, stage crew and set construction club, and serves as vice president in the Dog Rescue Group. Sara plans to attend Boston University with a major in theatre arts: design and production with a concentration in stage management dramaturgy and minor in film production. 

"I would like to move back to New York and work within production management for the theatre industry, before getting my masters of fine arts degree," she says.

October Long Island Scholar Artist, Joshua Cai

The versatility of Joshua Cai's music skills extends

The versatility of Joshua Cai's music skills extends beyond the stage, with inspiration coming from those around him. His work has amazed music lovers from Suffolk County to the District of Columbia and from Germany to Poland.

"I get inspired by all kinds of great playing, as it motivates me to play and work on my craft," says the Mount Sinai High School student. "I'm also inspired by the inherent value that music has in our society, and how it has the amazing ability to connect people of different backgrounds."

He took top honors at the International Virtuoso, International Grand Music and Johansen International competitions from 2016-18. A Long Island Scholar-Artist for October, Joshua shined at the Juilliard Pre-college open Concerto Competition last year.
 

Long Island Scholar Artist, Joshua Cai in performance

"My musical endeavors have allowed me to share music with people of diverse backgrounds," he says. "In fact, music served as the sole medium through which I could connect with those that I seemingly had nothing in common with."

He has won prizes in the 14th International Moritzburg Festival in Germany and the 22nd Morningside Music Bridge Concerto Competition in Poland. For Joshua, his work in senior homes is one of his significant duties.

"Every performance was filled with excitement from the [senior] residents, as it is not every day that they have the opportunity of listening to live musicians," he says. "I found it rewarding to share something I love with not only other musicians like myself but with the general community."

Joshua plans to pursue a dual degree in music performance and mathematics after high school before postgraduate doctoral studies.

September Long Island Scholar Artist, Taylor Montgomery

Creative inspiration for filmmaker Taylor Montgomery comes from

Creative inspiration for filmmaker Taylor Montgomery comes from helping others. The Mattituck High School student feels teen-related topics guide viewers she's trying to reach while emphasizing key issues.

"I strive to help others in my school and community and incorporate [awareness] into my films by creating PSA's and other related videos," says the Long Island Scholar-Artist for September. "I was inspired to create my suicide prevention video from the Netflix show "13 Reasons Why," which sparked controversy because of the topic of teen suicide."

The show helped Taylor realize teen mental health needed more discussion and programs in schools and communities required a spotlight. She serves as vice president for Mattituck's Distributive Education Club of America group, is a key member of the Students Against Destructive Decisions club and is heavily involved in the district's TV production program. 

A screen shot from Taylor's suicide prevention film

"Film helps me [highlight] topics that aren't normally discussed," Taylor says. "Film also serves as a very efficient way to help get my message across to the viewers effectively."

Taylor's work has been featured in the Five Towns College Film Festival. She was also instrumental in creating a public service announcement on suicide prevention, which is being used by the Suffolk County Office of Health Education's peer education program.

Taylor plans to study business analytics and marketing after high school.
 

 

September Long Island Scholar Artist Isabella Aletrakis

For Isabella Aletrakis, dance is about the experience

For Isabella Aletrakis, dance is about the experience of movement and serving as an avenue of infinite expression. She draws inspiration from everyday life experiences.
 
"It's a way for me to express my feelings and just share my passion with everyone else," says the Long Island High School for the Arts and John F. Kennedy High School student. "There are no boundaries, no sadness, no worries when I am performing."
 
At JFK, she was inducted into the National Honor Society for dance and won the President Academic Award. A Long Island Scholar-Artist for September, Isabella placed in the top 12 at the Youth America Grand Prix for her contemporary performance last year and was selected as a finalist for best dancer. 
 
"Dance has been my passion [since I was a] young child," Isabella says. 

Isabella Aletrakis, in Performance

The Merrick resident trains in New York City

The Merrick resident trains in New York City with the Manhattan Youth Ballet and worked with a professional dance company, TOKYOtheCOMPANY2, performing all around the country and attended the Radio City Rockette Summer Intensive this past summer. She also performs at various senior homes during the holidays.

Isabella is applying to colleges, intending to major in dance with a minor in business. She hopes her passion for ballet gets her into a dance company and also plans to explore choreography.
 
"I want to have a positive impact with my choreography and art of movement," says Isabella.

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