Awards and Achievements

2016-2017 School Year

  • NMSA was named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School, the first school in Santa Fe ever to receive this award, and one of three statewide to be recognized in the current school year. The NBRS Award is one the highest national honors a school can achieve. 

  • NMSA was a recipient of the 2016 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

  • NMSA received its fourth consecutive “A” grade from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

  • NMSA was named Best High School in the Santa Fe Reporter’s Best of Santa Fe for the second consecutive year!

  • NMSA was awarded a 2016 “Schools that Work” distinction from Edutopia. www.edutopia.org

  • The NMSA Chamber String Ensemble won the String Category at the 2017 New Mexico Activities Association State Orchestra Competition.

  • The NMSA Choir won the 2017 New Mexico Activities Association State Choir Championship.

  • Senior Theater student Jimmy Toomey was a finalist in the prestigious 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program. 

  • Malaya Peixinho and Simona Rael were selected as recipients of the Simon Family Foundation college scholarship.

  • Ana Rael and Triana Reid were selected as the inaugural Miller Scholars, a distinction awarded each year to two outstanding students in NMSA’s Creative Writing and Literature Program.

  • Ezri Horne, Emily Brown, and Merit Willey were declared Century Bank Super Scholars, as they scored a 26 or above on their ACT test (or SAT equivalent), and are among the top 10 percent of their graduating class. 

  • Terrance Matthews, Dance sophomore, won an Anthony Quinn Scholarship to attend the Hubbard Street Summer Intensive in Chicago.

  • Ana Rael and Sylka Feliciano qualified as two top performers in the state qualifying tournament for the National Speech and Debate Association. Congratulations also to Amy Borton, who won first alternate in Congressional Debate.

  • Cellist Sam Barrett won first place in the New Mexico Music Guild’s Jackie McGehee Young Artist Competition. Bassist Toby Vigneau won third place in the Jackie McGehee Young Artist Competition.

  • Pianist Santana Garcia-Alarid won first place in the Music Teachers National Association State Piano Competition.

  • Maya Peña, a Visual Arts junior, won a Yale Book Award.

  • Acacia Burnham won the St. John’s Book Award.

  • Ezri Horne won a silver medal for her art portfolio in the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, also winning a $1,000 prize. Ezri also received two gold keys for individual pieces, and a nomination for the American Visions Award. Ezri was a Young Arts Winner with an Honorable Mention for her portfolio. Lastly, Ezri was also the recipient of a Los Alamos National Labs Employee Scholarship.

  • Math teacher Melanie McKinley was awarded the 2017 Santa Fe Institute Prize for Outstanding Teaching in Mathematics or the Sciences. This prize acknowledges her creativity, originality, rigor, and excellence, as well as her contributions to our students.

  • School counselor Mikiko Ellis was awarded a 2016 Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Fellowship to Santiago, Chile. 

  • Theater Department Chair Joey Chavez was nominated for a Tony Award in Theatre Education.

2015-2016 School Year

  • NMSA was named among the top high schools in the country by Newsweek.

  • NMSA was nominated to be a National Blue Ribbon School.

  • NMSA was selected by George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia as one of fifteen “Schools that Work”, and is being highlighted on its website.

  • In July 2015, Dance Department Chair Adam McKinney completed a two-week National Artist Teacher Fellowship (NATF) residency in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. His project focused on the effects of borders and border technologies on communities. In October, he traveled to Boston, MA for the 2015 NATF convening, where he presented his work amongst the cohort of fellowship recipients. Later in October and April 2016, McKinney traveled to New York City to participate in The School of American Ballet’s prestigious National Visiting Fellows Program, as part of SAB’s Diversity and Inclusion initiative!

  • In July and August 2015, Visual Arts Department Chair Cristina González completed a ten-day residency at the Sam & Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts in New Berlin, New York.  González was one of three educators, out of a pool of over eight hundred nationwide, selected for this opportunity. The residency was a first-ever partnership between Golden Artist Colors and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit organization that coordinates the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. During her residency, González received the unparalleled opportunity to experiment with new painting technology and to focus on her own artistic work.

  • Sophomore Lila Baca was selected to participate in the National Association for Music Education National High School Honor Orchestra! She traveled to Tennessee to join other nationally recognized high school musicians.

  • Visual Arts student Liliana Penny’s photograph “fog1” was selected by Santa Fe Photographic Workshops as the monthly contest winner for October 2015.

  • Theater Senior Gabe Kessler and Visual Arts Seniors Asa Benson-Core and Claire Motsinger received YoungArts merit awards this year.

  • Congratulations to six Visual Arts students, each of whom won the Artisans Santa Fe “Budding Artist Award” from Artisans, a Santa Fe art supply store: Lilia Morris-Wright, Maya Peña, Lauren Sarkissian, Taylor Scism, Brooklyn Sullivan-Seebeck, Elana Wallach. Each of these students won a $100 gift certificate for art supplies.

  • On Veterans’ Day in November 2015, a Vietnam War Memorial sculpture designed by Visual Arts faculty Cristina González and Jacob Sisneros, entitled “Warrior’s Repose,” was dedicated to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by Hispanic veterans. The work is permanently located at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

  • Brass Burapa, Julia Baca, Eamon Kelly Graves, and Kelly Sandoval were honored at the Century Bank Super Scholar Banquet in May 2016.

  • Lauren Sarkissian received a Santa Fe Institute Student Prize for Scientific Excellence.

  • Lila Baca, Julia Baca, Serena Bixby, Makai Colvin, Lucy Felt, Riley Ferretti, Miya Hamashige, Divara Harper, Phoebe Jackson, Margaret King, Allison Longo, Sofia Mejias-Archibald, Ruby Miller, Angelicia Ochoa-Rivera, Emily Quintana, Nicole Romero, Naya Spencer, Anna Stucky, Arianna Thoksakis, Jane Trembley, Jessica Weber, Megan Weider, Hanna Zercher, Sam Barrett, Jason Duncan, Adan Gallegos, Miles Horne, Occam Kelly Graves, Eamon Kelly Graves, Johnny Mamula , Eli Margaret-Verrett, Keenan McDonald, Seth Sanchez, Adam Ulm, Kevin Wingate, Weston Winkler were selected to participate in the New Mexico Music Educators Association All-State Festival held in Albuquerque, January 2016. Maggie King was selected as concertmaster, Julia Baca as principal viola and Eamon Kelly Graves as assistant principal viola in the top orchestra.  Ruby Miller was selected as concertmaster in the second orchestra with Miles Horne being selected as principal second violin. 

  • Visual Arts students Ezri Horne, Paloma Mankus, Alicia Stewart, and Sienna Sullivan Ginn won accolades in the Scholastic Art Awards.  Ezri received Gold and Silver Key awards at the Scholastic Art Awards, and Ezri, Sienna, and Paloma were awarded Honorable Mentions!

  • The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation announced in January 2016 that NMSA students Tilcara Webb (theater) and Gavin Laur (music) were the winners of its new Arts Writing Scholarship competition for the New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA) Senior Creative Writing program!

  • In June 2015, Monika Cassel, Acting Chair of Creative Writing and Literature, won the Venture Poetry Award, an international poetry competition that includes a prize and publication of her pamphlet (short poetry collection), Grammar of Passage, by flipped eye publishing in the UK. The pamphlet will appear later this year. Dr. Cassel’s poetry and translations have also appeared in national literary magazines in the US.

  • Junior Kit Willey (Theater) won a Silver Medal in poetry in the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

  • Junior Jason Duncan received the Yale Book award.

  • School counselor Mikiko Ellis received a Fulbright to conduct research in Santiago, Chile.

  • The Santa Fe Elks Lodge named Seniors Julia Baca and Gabe Kessler as Outstanding Students of 2016

  • Maggie King was selected as a Santa Fe Pro Music Young Apprentice and performed the 2015-16 season as a member of the violin section.

  • In the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Region-at-Large, seven NMSA students won twelve awards in four different categories; junior Kit Willey’s poetry entry received a Gold Key, the highest regional award, and advanced to national judging. Other winners: Arianna Thoksakis (Silver, poetry); Kayleigh Warren (Silver, personal essay/memoir); Tilcara Webb (Silver, critical essay; honorable mention: poetry, memoir, journalism); Skye Franklin (honorable mention, poetry); Ezri Horne (honorable mention, personal essay/memoir); Kit Willey (Gold, poetry); Marika Sayers (Silver, poetry; honorable mention, poetry).

  • Future Voices of New Mexico 2016 Photography and Video Contest Winners: Devon Ewy (3rd place, manipulated), Lily Garcia (1st place, manipulation), Sienna Sullivan-Ginn (1st place, humorous), MJ Lee (2nd place, color), Sam Ellvinger (1st place, people), Tess Heneghan and Jane Henry (1st place, “The Landlord,” experimental video)

  • Maggie King received 1st place, Sam Barrett 2nd place and Hanna Zercher honorable mention in the prestigious Jackie McGehee Young Artist Competition.  As a result, both Maggie and Sam played concertos with the New Mexico Philharmonic. 

  • Hanna Zercher was the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Concerto Competition winner earning her a solo concerto performance with the Santa Fe Youth Symphony

  • Sophomore Maya Peña was selected to attend the Santa Fe Art Institute summer Design Workshop. 

  • Visual Arts students Erin Ice-Johnson, Lilia Morris- Wright, Hans Frauenglass, Lauren Sarkissian, Paloma Mankus, Devon Ewy, Cole Joyce, Magdalena Nero, and Taylor Scism all had work selected for the Currents New Media Festival in June 2016.

  • Media Arts Lead Instructor Sarah Spengler’s work was selected for the Currents New Media Festival in June 2016.

2014-2015 School Year

  • Maggie King and Soledad Sanchez y Lucero were selected by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) to participate in the All National Honor Ensembles (October 29, 2014). Five New Mexico students were selected to participate in this national “All State” type ensemble.

  • Junior Gavin Laur is a division finalist in the Music Teachers National Association Senior Piano Competition. He traveled to Santa Barbara, CA on January 3 to compete.

  • Junior MJ Lee was the October winner of the Future Voices of New Mexico Photography Contest.

  • The following students were accepted into the 2014/15 Lensic Technical Theater internship program:

    • Nicolai Pederson

    • Desirae Orr

    • Louise Browne

    • Hannah Lunt

    • Trianna Reid

    • Alyssa Mutz

    • Reina Nelson

    • Lila Faust

    • Jasper Keen

    • Skye Frankling

  • Acacia McCombs received the 2014 Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for New Mexico by the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). NABT annually recognizes one biology teacher from each of the 50 states and territories of the United States, as well as Canada. Both Ms. McCombs and NMSA received award certificates, as well as an invitation to a special award luncheon at the NABT Professional Development Conference in November 2014 in Cleveland, OH.

  • The following vocal, guitar, and orchestra students were selected to participate in the New Mexico Music Educators Association (NMMEA) in January 2015:

    • Treble Choir Students

      • Serena Bixby (Grade 9)

      • Seth Sanchez (Grade 10)

      • Riley Ferreti (Grade 9)

      • Divara Harper (Grade 9)

      • Amy Rohr (Grade 12)

      • Jessica Weber (Grade 10)

    • Mixed Choir Students

      • Genevieve Conley (Grade 12)

      • Annabella Farmer (Grade 10)

      • Adan Gallegos (Grade 10)

      • Miya Hamashige (Grade 10)

      • Desiree Herburger (Grade 12)

      • Nicholas Olrik (Grade 12)

      • Gabriella Ottersberg (Grade 12)

      • Sol Sanchez (Grade 12)

      • Jane Trembley (Grade 11)

      • Megan Weider (Grade 11)

    • Guitar Students

      • Adam Ulm (Grade 9)

      • Damien Vigil (Grade 10)

      • Kevin Wingate (Grade 11)

    • Concert Orchestra Students

      • Ignacio Marquez (Grade 10) – Bass

      • Lucy Felt (Grade 9) – Viola

    • Symphony Orchestra Students

      • Jason Duncan (Grade 10) – Bass

      • Lila Baca (Grade 9) – Cello

      • Eamon Kelly Graves (Grade 11) – Viola

      • Julia Baca (Grade 11)- Viola

      • Delilah Himm (Grade 10) – Viola

      • Maggie King (Grade 11) – Violin 1

      • Hanna Zercher (Grade 11) – Violin 1

      • Jende Cohen (Grade 12) – Violin 2

  • The following students received regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in writing! Gold Key works have advanced to national judging and national awards will be announced on March 16. This year saw an unprecedented 30% rise in national submissions, so every award earned shows a remarkable achievement.

    Sophomore Ezri Horne held her first solo exhibition Sunday March 1, 11am – 1pm at the Winterowd Fine Art gallery on Canyon Road. Her show displayed a body of work inspired by four musicians: Ben Barnett, Conor Oberst, Keaton Henson, and Mitch Welling. The pieces reflect and interpret their music through portraiture, text, and images on a series of ceramic vessels.

  • Visual Arts Faculty member Karina Hean held a solo exhibition at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and a group exhibition “Axle Indoors” at Peters Projects, Santa Fe.  “Axle Indoors” was on display through March 21.

  • Junior theatre student Jasper Keen was New Mexico’s 2014 Young Arts finalist!

  • Kayleigh Warren, a junior focusing on visual arts, attended the annual 2014 National Congress of American Indians Conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., where she acted as the youth representative of Santa Clara Pueblo. Warren said each of the country’s 566 federally recognized tribes were allowed to nominate one ambassador and 35 ambassadors made the trip, which her tribe paid.

  • Devon Ewy (Visual Arts, ’17) designed the logo and children’s menu for La Mesita Restaurant in Pojoaque!

  • Amelia Adcock, Lila Baca, Julia Baca, Serena Bixby, Jende Cohen, Genevieve Conley, Jason Duncan, Annabella Farmer, Lucy Felt, Riley Ferretti, Adan Gallegos, Miya Hamashige, Divara Harper, Desiree Herburger, Delilah Himm, Telo Hoy, Eamon Kelly Graves, Maggie King, Eli Margaret-Verett, Ignacio Marquez, Nicholas Olrik, Gabriella Ottersberg, Amy Rohr, Sol Sanchez, Seth Sanchez, Arianna Thokasis, Jane Trembleyu, Adam Ulm, Damien Vigil, Jessica Weber, Megan Weider, Kevin Wingate and Hanna Zercher were selected to participate in the New Mexico Music Educators Association All-State Festival, held in Albuquerque January 7th – 10th.

  • Brass Burapa-Coggins and Jason Duncan were selected to participate in Jazz All-State sponsored by the New Mexico Jazz Educators.

  • Ty Mott and Asa Benson-Core were selected for an internship at radicle (Landscape Design + Build, Art and Activism) during Spring 2015 Semester.

  • Kayleigh Warren was named the Future Voices of New Mexico Monthly Photo contest winner for the month of January 2015.

  • Juniors Asa Benson-Core, Iliana Briceño, Samual Ellvinger, Rivala Garcia, Cole Joyce, Kiana Lamberton, MJ Lee, Ty Mott, Maggie Nero, Lauren Sarkissian, Taylor Scism and Kayleigh Warren contributed work to SITE Lab 6:  Marcel Pinas, Kukku.

  • Dance Department Chair Adam McKinney was selected into the National Artist Teacher Fellowship Program.

  • Science teacher David Brooks was the recipient of the 2015 Prize for Outstanding Teaching in Mathematics or the Sciences. This $1,000 award acknowledges creativity, originality, academic rigor, and professional excellence of a math/science/computer science instructor as recognized by your school. Selecting from the school nominations, Santa Fe Institute makes the award to one local teacher each year.

2013-2014 School Year

  • Seven NMSA Visual Arts students participated in SITElab4 at SITE Santa Fe in January. Their work was exhibited with that of famed Diné photographer Will Wilson – the first time that SITE Santa Fe has exhibited student work

  • Sarah Colvin, Laurne Sarkissian, Tatyana Stavrowsky, and Raina Wellman, all advanced to the national level of the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Sarah and Tatyana were two of only seven students from New Mexico to win national awards from the Scholastic Art and Writing competition. Both are invited to attend the awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City on June 5th.

  • Future Voices of New Mexico – NMSA had six winners in the Photography section and one in the Film section!

  • Congratulations to NMSA Theater on their award winning performance of AUDIENCE at the 2014 ENMU Drama Festival.

  • National YoungArts Foundation awarded Visual Arts student Eva Ross an honorable mention in their annual merit scholarship competition. She was the only student from the entire state of New Mexico to receive a YoungArts award.

  • In January the Music Department attended the New Mexico Educators Association All-State Festival and Conference in Albuquerque with 41 students who had been selected to participate. The NMSA Chamber Singers were also selected to perform in Popejoy Hall as the Choral Honor Ensemble to an audience of more than 1,500.

  • The NMSA Gay Straight Alliance was awarded a $1,000 grant, a free training day at Santa Fe Mountain Center and a Day of Silence support package.

  • Katarina Pittis won Honorable Mention award in the international BACKYARD photo contest run by the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.

  • Brass Burapa-Coggins was selected to participate in Jazz All-State sponsored by New Mexico Jazz Educators.

  • NMSA Senior Mohit Dubey was a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program and a finalist for a Presidential Scholarship.

  • Congratulations to Ana Holland-Hernandez and Alicia Stewart for winning the “Budding Artist” award sponsored by local art supply store Artisans-Santa Fe.

  • And, last but hardly least: NMSA Seniors received over $5 million in scholarships and financial assistance through their pursuit of post-secondary education and/or professional training.

  • NMSA’s charter was renewed for five years in December 2013 – thanks to the extraordinary work of Principal Cindy Montoya over many
    months preparing the application and coordinating the efforts of Board, faculty, staff, students, and families.

  • NMSA was one of five finalists in the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge alongside Los Alamos High School and Albuquerque
    Academy.

  • NMSA received its third consecutive “A” from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

2012-2013 School Year

  • NMSA Principal Cynthia Montoya was named Charter School Principal of the Year by the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools on November 3rd during their annual conference in Abq. “As Principal and Superintendent, Ms. Montoya has shown transformational and effective leadership as well as an unparalleled commitment to the students and school community she serves.  She is a visionary for not just the charter school movement, but for public education itself.” – NMCC

  • An NMSA Music student was a finalist in the Supercomputing Challenge competition for designing an app to lead the visually impaired by sound. He won another award from Sandia National Labs – “most creative and innovative project.
    NMSA Visual Arts students won the following awards from Future Voices of New Mexico: FILM : 1st place in the Narrative category, 2nd place/Animation. PHOTOGRAPHY: 1st place in Architecture category; 2nd and 3rd place in Portrait category; 3rd place in Documentary category.

  • NMSA Visual Arts students’ video work was selected to appear in Currents 2013: Santa Fe International New Media Festival in June 2013.

  • A Music Department Senior was been selected as Santa Fe Pro Musica Apprentice Artist for the 2012-2013 concert season.

  •  The NMSA Choir was awarded the 2013 NMAA (New Mexico Activities Association) Class AAA State Championship Banner and Blue Trophy at the State Choir Contest. The group also received the Gold Trophy for earning only Superior-I ratings from all three judges.

  • The NMSA Choir also received “perfect scores” at the NMMEA Music Performance Assessment in the Spring – a new record for this event.

  • The NMSA String Orchestra competed in the Music Performance Assessment, receiving superior ratings across the board.

  • The NMSA Instrumental Ensemble represented NMSA at the District Solo and Ensemble Festival, receiving superior ratings for this performance.

  • 27 NMSA students were accepted to the choral and orchestral sections of the New Mexico All State Music Festival.

  • Three Visual Arts students won Gold and Silver Keys in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Southwest Art Regional-At-Large. After all three students advanced to the National competition, one student came away with a Gold Medal in the Scholastic Art & Writing Contest. She exhibited her award-winning photograph in New York City and was invited to attend a ceremony at Carnegie Hall. A Theater student also won an award for her writing.

  • A Visual Arts Student won First Place in the Aviation Art Contest sponsored by the state of New Mexico.

  • A NMSA Visual Arts student designed three childrens’ activities for the Pecos National Historical Park 151st Anniversary Commemoration of the Civil War Battle of Glorietta Pass. Participants could “Hand-Color a Daguerreotype,” “Write and Illustrate a Civil War Journal Page,” or “Make Northern New Mexico Tin Work.”

  • Congratulations to NMSA Theater for their participation in the 2013 ENMU High School Drama Festival where they were awarded Best Comedy for the performance of the original comedy Gun Shy, by NMSA Theater Department Chair Joey Chavez.

  • A Visual Arts student’s design for a “Sustained Education Pod” won the “Most Likely to Change the World” prize in ISEA’s STEMArts Competition.

2011 – 2012 School Year

  • NMSA received an A as its final grade for the 2011-2012 school year from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

  • New Mexico School for the Arts was one of two schools in Santa Fe to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2011 under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act.  To make AYP, schools must achieve a 95 percent participation rate on state assessments, reach targets for proficiency in math and reading, and meet one other indicator such as attendance or graduation rates.

  • NMSA Music Department student Allie Norris placed 1st in Viola at the 2012 All State Music Festival.

  • NMSA Theater students were voted Best Ensemble at the 2012 ENMUS Theatre Festival for their original work titled “Love And the Scent of Oranges.”

  • NMSA Visual Arts students Bo LeMieux, Ana Pittis and Katarina Pittis have all placed in the top ten of Congressman Lujan’s 2012 Annual Congressional Art Competition. Their artwork will be displayed for one year in one of Congressman Lujan’s state offices. Katarina Pittis (Class 2014), won first place, her artwork will be on display at a nationally-recognized exhibit in the United States Capitol for one year. Katarina herself will also be awarded a free trip to D.C. where a gala honoring the national winners will be hosted.

  • The following students from NMSA’s first graduating class have all met the Century Bank Super Scholar requirements of receiving an ACT test score of 26 or higher (for SAT equivalent), and being in the top 10% of their class: Malia Byrne, Diego Suarez, Ryan Rodriquez, Samuel Thompson and Maya Rose Tweten.

  • NMSA Visual Arts students won the following Future Voice of New Mexico 2012 Photography Contest awards: Documentary Photography Honorable Mention Cruz Valdez, Photography 3rd place Josh Zimber, Photography 2nd place Aspen Dawn Conchz, Fine-Art Photography Honorable Mention Sienna Fleming, Portrait Photography1st place Ana Pitts.

  • Supercomputing Challenge team 94, Noah Caulfield, Mohit Dubey, Milada Guenther and Samuel Thompson received the New Mexico EPSCoR Climate Change/Water Resources award for their project, “Water You Waiting for Santa Fe” from The National Science Foundation.

  • Visual Arts Sophomore Savoy Rath won two Silver Medals at the National Level of the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Competition and was invited to attend the awards in NYC.