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Orange County High School Artist of the Year Nominees Announced – Orange County Register

Artist of the Year nominees include (top row, from left) Preston Schmidt of Irvine (vocal music), Magdalena Aparicio of Yorba Linda (media arts), Stephen Alva of Huntington Beach (instrumental music), Kaylie Camacho of Tustin (theater), and (bottom row, from left) Amanda Ree of Irvine (dance), Yishai Bellgreene of Placentia (film and television), and Jasmine Mercado-Cruz of Fullerton (visual arts). (Photos courtesy of the artists)

The Orange County Register is proud to announce the 2023 nominees for the Artist of the Year program.

Designed to complement the annual high school Athlete of the Year awards, this program honors Orange County’s top junior and senior artists.

In 2013, the first year of the program, 113 students from 50 schools were nominated. This year, 721 students were nominated, representing 78 local high schools and arts organizations.

Based on the latest data collected by the California Department of Education, 80,221 juniors and seniors were enrolled in Orange County for the 2021-2022 school year, indicating that this year’s class represents the top 0.9% of all juniors and seniors in the county.

4,946 students were nominated for the Artist of the Year program, now in its 10th season.

Students are nominated by art teachers and private lecturers in seven different disciplines: theatre, dance, film and television, vocal music, instrumental music, media art and fine arts. Within these disciplines, students have been nominated for specific specialties that highlight the area in which they are most successful. For example, a theater student may be nominated in either acting, musical theater performance, or theater design.

After this initial nomination, a panel of arts educators will narrow down the lists and select up to 16 semifinalists in each discipline to proceed to a round of face-to-face interviews with art experts and arts faculty from Orange County universities. The semi-finalists will be announced on April 23rd. The best artist of the year for each discipline as well as the finalists in each specialty will be announced on April 30th.

An awards ceremony will be held on May 10 at 5:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the Chapman University campus, which will be free and open to the public. This event includes performances and presentations by the best students. This program is in its fourth year of generous support from the Chapman University College of Performing Arts. Chapman has committed $25,000 annually for general operating expenses.

“For us at Chapman University’s College of Performing Arts, there is nothing more important than encouraging an interest in all the arts among the young people of our community. We all believe in art as a pathway to a meaningful life, no matter what students pursue as a career, because active participation in art teaches you a variety of skills and opens your mind,” said Giulio M. Ongaro, Dean of Chapman’s College of Performing Arts. “That’s why we’re thrilled to once again partner with OC Artist of the Year to honor Orange County’s best young artists.”

All nominated students are listed here with the school or arts organization they represent. Find this story online at to read endorsements from students’ teachers and links to student work samples.

Click on the links below to view the full list of nominees for each discipline, student teacher endorsements and links to sample student work.


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