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27 El Dorado Students Are Nominated for OC Artists of the Year

Orange County Register: Artist of the Year Nominees:

The Orange County Register’s Artist of the Year program, now in its seventh year, is proud to announce this year’s nominees.

A total of 750 students have been nominated by teachers and private instructors from 78 Orange County high schools and arts organizations as the standout arts students in the county in the fields of theater, dance, film, vocal music, instrumental music, computer-assisted visual arts and handcrafted visual arts.

Finalists will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

Here are the 27 nominees from El Dorado High School:

Dance Nominees:

Taylor Elliott

“As an artist, Taylor is a perfectionist. She never stops practicing and on her high school team she is one of the hardest working dancers I have ever had the pleasure to work with. It is easy to say someone has a positive attitude, but in the four years I have known Taylor, I have never seen her have a bad or off day. Taylor also never stops learning.” — Shan Lawson, El Dorado High School

Makenna Smith

“Makenna has HEART! This is one of the first things I noticed about this tiny beam of light! Makenna started attending our studio a little bit later than most, but quickly made tons of friends and a large impression. She absolutely has the biggest heart for dance, she needs to be on the stage, desires success, and strives for the almost unattainable.” — Amber Case, Momentum Dance & Performing Arts Center

Hailey Stoller

“Hailey has choreographed in every style and it has been a pleasure to watch her artistry grow. She seeks out new styles and has a deep desire for her choreography to connect dancer and audience. Hailey joined the team as a very high level dancer but has never been complacent, instead she is extremely hardworking, always pushing herself to the next level.” — Shan Lawson, El Dorado High School

Film / Animation Nominees:

Ray Nelson

“Ray has really found a home in our program and has a real love for cinematography. He works well with others and is extremely sought after by the other students in the class to film their projects. Ray has a solid understanding of the fundamentals of cinematography and really takes a creative approach to his work.” — Mark Switzer, El Dorado High School

Haley Kate Kim

“Haley Kim’s greatest strength as a director is her ability to bring out the best in all of her actors and her collaborative teammates. She has a genuine concern for the stories she tells and the team of people she is working with.” — Mark Switzer, El Dorado High School

Ethan Lee

“Ethan always has unique and creative ideas for his film projects and is a creative force in our class. As a director, he is able to make his unique vision come to life on screen. Ethan doesn’t shy away from controversial subjects and has been courageous in his choice of subject matter.” — Mark Switzer, El Dorado High School

Instrumental Music Nominees:


Troy Beckman, drum set

“Troy is an excellent percussionist. He strives to be the best he can be and has worked toward a comprehensive approach to a variety of percussion instruments. He is the backbone of our Jazz 2 band and does so by providing a solid groove to listen to.” — Eric Samson, El Dorado High School


Benjamin Kim, violin

“He is one of our lead violinists in our school orchestra and is one that leads by example. Ben is great at listening to music and recreating it on his instrument. He has shown a lot of growth as a student, musician, and a leader. He is also an amazing photographer.” — Tim Vrooman, El Dorado High School


Lia Mimun, alto saxophone

“Lia is a student that continuously strives for excellence. She is in numerous programs within El Dorado and holds leadership roles in band, jazz band, and choir. She creates improvisation lines in jazz and has developed her musicianship to extraordinary levels in a short period of time.” — Timothy Vrooman, El Dorado High School

Evan Moh, tenor saxophone

“Evan particularly excels in jazz improvisation and is relied upon to be a soloist in jazz band and jazz combo. He always steps up to the challenge and performs well beyond his years. He has been an inspiration to our younger members and returning members alike.” — Eric Samson, El Dorado High School

Vocal Music Nominees:

Filipe Pimentel Terenzi

“Felipe consistently demonstrates depth and artistry in every performance. Audiences are always impressed with his ability to make the music his own and perform with such heart.” — Ryan Yoder, El Dorado High School

Aimee Catherine Asch

“Her peers admire her talent, leadership, and character. Her vocal technique far exceeds the normal expectations of a high school singer. As an artist, Aimee strives to impact others through her vocal talents. She brings her own quality and style to every performance, while maintaining excellent vocal technique.” — Ryan Yoder, El Dorado High School

Falit Bakshi

“Falit is an exceptional vocal artist. As an ensemble member, he actively supports those around him to be the best they can be. His peers look to him for guidance and additional help with music. As a soloist, Falit strives to bring artistry into every performance.” — Ryan Yoder, El Dorado High School

Theater Nominees:

Aimee Catherine Asch

“Her reliability and charisma on stage make her a joy to work with, but what is most enjoyable is her willingness to take direction. She doesn’t wait for feedback, but comes and ask for it so that she can improve. She is constantly seeking growth.” — Kathleen Switzer, El Dorado High School

Jennifer Chau

“She is the type of student who leans into every role with gusto. She isn’t timid or afraid of making mistakes. She is a powerhouse and commands the stage easily. In addition, she is one of the most humble students I have ever had the pleasure to direct.” — Kathleen Switzer, El Dorado High School

Natalie D’Allura

“Natalie is an incredibly gifted actress who has demonstrated an immense amount of range over her four years at El Dorado High School. Her dramatic performances are honest, vulnerable, and filled with emotion, and her comic timing and flair for unique and brassy characters has allowed her to play a wide variety of roles.” — Kathleen Switzer, El Dorado High School

Gavin Hamze

“Gavin brings an abundant amount of positivity and energy to the stage, regardless of the size of the role he is cast in. He is the type of artist who truly understands the importance of working as an ensemble. He is constantly seeking improvement, asks for feedback on a regular basis, and genuinely cares about his growth as a performer.” — Kathleen Switzer, El Dorado High School

Ashley Jones

“Her desire to work on the ‘whole picture’ is evident in the various roles she has played onstage and backstage. This year alone she has acted in our Thespian play, co-directed our fall play and served as design head for multiple technical elements at the same time, and is currently serving as assistant stage manager for our musical, as well as serving as the improv club manager and being involved in our actor’s repertory class as a performer.” — Kathleen Switzer, El Dorado High School

Jordyn Nicole Murray

“Jordyn is one of those performers that you are just drawn to watching. She carries herself with maturity and grace, and she is always invested in every moment, regardless of her role in the production. Her performances are always genuine and never forced, and she definitely thinks about how her role fits into the bigger picture.” — Kathleen Switzer, El Dorado High School

Sophia Scarsi

“Sophia came in to my program with a level of professionalism and charisma that is rarely seen in a high school setting. She is a gifted vocalist with an impressive range and the ability to work in a variety of vocal styles and she takes constructive criticism to heart and doesn’t let it affect her personally. She also has a wide acting range and is able to equally handle comedic, brassy roles and subdued, vulnerable roles.” — Kathleen Switzer, El Dorado High School

Computer Drawing and Painting Nominees:

Sascha La Carter

“From the first day of class Sascha had impressed me with his ability to devise creative design solutions with a clear understanding of the principles of graphic design. Sascha shows his commitment to his education and personal growth in the multitude of activities he has been involved with over the years.” — David Block, El Dorado High School

Jessa Laboissonniere

“From her first day, Jessa has impressed us with her ability to devise creative design solutions with a clear understanding of the principles of art and design. Over her high school career, Jessa has taken on increasingly difficult projects testing her ability to produce extraordinary work and to operate as a freelance designer.” — David Block & Kathleen Switzer, El Dorado High School

Photography Nominees:

Rachael Pinoliar

“As a teacher, we get to know many students. Some have talent and some are so extraordinary, you just know that you are witnessing something special at the ground level. That is how I feel about Rachael Pinoliar. Rachael’s work is truly captivating, and she makes an effort to get her work out into the world.” — Audra Ross, El Dorado High School

Tabitha Rogers

“Some have talent and some are so extraordinary, you just know that you are witnessing something special at the ground level. That is how I feel about Tabitha Rogers. Tabitha is a giving person who volunteers countless hours to help the less fortunate by working with her church to help orphanages all around the world. On her travels she photographs the people she meets. Her work rivals professional Nat Geo photographers.” — Audra Ross, El Dorado High School

Hand-Crafted Visual Arts Nominees:

Rachel Delmy Marrero

“Her approach to ceramics is mature beyond her years, she has the dedication of upper level college art students. She is constantly pushing herself past her comfort zone which has allowed her to continually grow as an artist. Her specialty is in throwing large sectional vases on the potters wheel. She likes to take conventional forms and decorate them with organic glaze applications, using drips from over glazing techniques and alternative firing processes.” – Jeffrey Picou, El Dorado High School

Riley Pettitt

“Riley is extremely well rounded as an artist in the sense that he very strong as both a potter and hand builder/sculptor. The scope of his work is diverse as well. His functional pottery is very much rooted in traditional forms and firing processes while his sculpture leans towards contemporary forms and abstraction.” – Jeff Picou, El Dorado High School

Kodie Spann

“She’s an incredibly gifted artist that is hard working, creative and dedicated to her craft. Her primary focus is on creating stylized figurative sculptures but she excels in her ability to make functional pottery as well. She is thoughtful and intentional in everything that she does and her attention to detail is unparalleled.” – Michelle Erikson, El Dorado High School

Congratulations to all of the EDHS Artist of the Year Nominees!

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