Fluvanna High School seniors recognized for the arts

By Page H. Gifford

Fluvanna County High School had its first art signing ceremony on May 10 recognizing four students who showed promise in the arts. The Fine and Performing Arts Collegiate Signing Ceremony honored four outstanding students in the arts; Emily Stevens, Willow Harrison, Amya Perry, and Dylan Staton.

“These seniors have not only been accepted to their chosen four-year institutions but have also been accepted into their program of choice as freshman. This is a notable achievement as many colleges do not accept first-year students into these specific programs unless you have completed general education coursework or you are considered exceptional in your chosen field,” said Michelle Coleman, the Fine Arts Department chair and art director for theater at FCHS.

The focus has always been on student-athletes and little attention paid to students who have made amazing contributions to the arts in public schools. Many of these students with just basic training, incredible talent, and embracing the process of creativity and practice have  come a long way in a short time. They now look forward to learning advanced techniques and eventually making their mark in the world of art.

Emily Stevens was accepted into James Madison University for music composition with a concentration in piano studies.

“Music has always been a part of my life. I always knew that I wanted to have a career in music, and specifically become a composer after discovering my passion for film music,” said Stevens. She has been playing the piano for about 13 years, and percussion for about 10. Throughout high school, Emily has been involved in numerous arts programs such as wind ensemble as a percussionist, receiving district and all-state honors, the marching band as drumline captain and percussion caption head, and choir as the piano accompanist for multiple ensembles. “My musical journey has not always been easy, as I have Tourette’s Syndrome and my hand movement is sometimes therefore inhibited. I am proud of the success I have achieved, and I made it into the college of my choice.” She received a piano scholarship and is excited to attend JMU and the experience she says she will gain from her education.

Willow Harrison was accepted into George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts in the Arts and Visual Technologies program.

“I have always loved creating in one way or another. The longer I take serious art classes, the more I have realized just how much art positively affects my life, and how important it is to me,” said Harrison. “I don’t have any concrete plans for the future, but I like it that way. I hope to take up an apprenticeship in tattooing, teach, work on freelance illustration, and any other job I can get my hands on.”

Amya Perry was accepted into Virginia Commonwealth University’s Art Foundation program. Perry has been drawing most of her life, a solid foundation for all visual arts. But she credits middle school art teacher Margie Kritzer with inspiring her and igniting her passion for art.  

“My art teacher, Mrs. Kritzer, encouraged me to keep drawing and gave me tips that I still use today. She was the first person to make art classes interesting and she boosted my confidence. Without her, I wouldn’t have gotten the foundation I need to pursue art in college,” said Perry. Her goal is to pursue a career in animation or illustration.

Dylan Staton was accepted into Eastern Mennonite University for photography.

“I did not always want to go into an arts program in college, but during the COVID pandemic, I began to look at myself closely and was able to figure out what I really wanted to do,” he said. “I have always had a passion for photography from an early age, and now that I have pursued it further, it excites me even more. I can’t wait to grow my knowledge of photography as well as grow into a more creative and whole person.”

These students are the embodiment of learning and creating in a way that will shape society’s future, culture, and the underlying meaning that will affect future generations. It may sound like a lot to put on their shoulders, but their passion and dedication show they are ready for it.

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