Weekly roundup: OC Register’s Artists of the Year named, OCDE announces 2025 Teachers of the Year finalists, and more

The Artists of the Year for 2024 are (top row from left): Grace Lin, media arts; Viveka Saravanan, vocal music; Jadon Wu, instrumental music; Caroline Kim, fine arts; (bottom row, from left) Sofia Aniceto, dance; Benjamin Weil, film and TV; and McKenzie Cahill, theater.
The Artists of the Year for 2024 are (top row from left): Grace Lin, Viveka Saravanan, Jadon Wu, Caroline Kim, (bottom row, from left) Sofia Aniceto, Benjamin Weil and McKenzie Cahill. (Photos courtesy of Orange County Register/SCNG)

From a pool of nearly 900 nominees, seven Orange County high school students have been named the Artists of the Year, recognized for their creativity, passion and dedication to their craft across seven artistic disciplines.

Launched in 2014, the program, co-sponsored by the Orange County Register and Chapman University, honors junior and senior students who excel in various artistic endeavors, showcasing their talents and contributions to their communities. 

Teachers from local high schools, private instructors and arts organizations nominate candidates. Semifinalists are subsequently allotted 15 minutes each to demonstrate their artistry and respond to questions from a panel of judges tailored to each discipline. 

The judges are college and high school instructors, working professionals and leaders from Orange County’s art institutions. 

“I can’t believe how many students there are this year,” Judy Scialpi, a dance teacher at Northwood High in Irvine who helped conceive and shape the Artist of the Year program and serves as a judge for dance, told the Register.

The 2024 Artist of the Year winners are: 

The program finalists will have an opportunity to showcase their talents at an awards ceremony at Chapman University’s Memorial Hall at 5:30 p.m. on May 8. The public is invited to attend.

Here are the other stories we’ve been following this week:

Arbolita Elementary School teacher Kathryn Mayfield receives a $25,000 award from the Orange County Teachers of the Year Award Foundation, established by the William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation.
  • Six educators received a welcome surprise in their classrooms Thursday as they found out they were selected as 2025 Orange County Teacher of the Year finalists. 
  • Trabuco Elementary School, located in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, is among the 20 schools and 14 districts awarded the 2024 California Green Ribbon Awards for innovative approaches to environmental education and stewardship.
  • Three Anaheim Union High School District schools, including John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma, were honored with 2024 Civic Learning Awards, sponsored by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and California Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero.
Concepcion "Connie" Flores GGUSD
  • Orange County high schoolers hosted the Student AI Convening, a first-of-its-kind event, on April 25 to broaden their peers’ knowledge about artificial intelligence applications available at their fingertips.
  • Oxford Academy in the Anaheim Union High School District retains its position as a top performer on the U.S. News and World Report’s Best High Schools list. With its intensive honors curriculum requiring students to take a minimum of four Advanced Placement courses to graduate, the school is ranked No. 4 in California and No. 22 nationally.
  • Marina High School senior Quinn Hartman has been named a CIF Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2023-24. Hartman was recognized for his academic and athletic excellence, boasting a 5.2 grade-point average and leading multiple sports teams and high school organizations as he prepares to attend Caltech.
  • Nick Graffis, a seasoned figure in the local water polo community, has been named the new head coach of the Huntington Beach High boys’ water polo team, bringing extensive coaching experience from both high school and college levels.
  • After reviewing more than a dozen applicants, the Orange Unified School District Board of Education selected Sara Pelly and Stephen Glass as new trustees, filling vacant seats following a recall election.
  • Layoff hearings in the Anaheim Union High School District will extend for five additional days in May. The move follows the school board’s decision earlier this year to release over 100 teachers due to declining enrollment amid expiring federal COVID relief funds and budget shortfalls, according to the Voice of OC.

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