The National Society of Arts and Letters


Washington DC Chapter


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Award for Excellence

in the Arts


High School Juniors Receive Honors in the Arts



2015 Award for Excellence in the Arts Chairs

Gwinneth Clarkson and Lynn Gorton



The Washington DC Chapter


The Twelfth Annual

Award for Excellence in the Arts Program

Monday, May 4, 2015 at 7:30 pm


The Terrace Theater

With Support From

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts



Click here to view a copy of the




Inaugurated in 2004 under the inspiration of Helen Henderson, this award program recognizes high school juniors in the Washington metropolitan area public, charter, and private high schools with either an Award for Excellence or a Certificate of Merit which documents their artistic talent and is a point of distinction on their application to the college of their choice.  These students are recognized in the disciplines of art, dance, drama, literature, music, and musical theatre.


We have a cherished tradition during the Awards ceremony of bringing back “alumni” from our previous year to either perform on the Kennedy Center stage or display their artwork during our program.  All Award winners and Merit recipients are invited to audition for this opportunity to provide the audience with a little entertainment and, hopefully, inspiration.  This is yet another way in which our chapter works to fulfill our mission of supporting young talent!


Among past winners and performers are a number of international students who have attended Washington area high schools.  This year, the Award for Excellence Program recognized over 100 high school juniors from 33 different high schools in the Washington metropolitan area. The students were excited, the parents were proud, and the teachers were happy.






We ask that each participating high school nominate junior-level students who excel in any of six artistic disciplines showcased by NSAL: art, literature, dance, drama, music, and musical theater.  This should be a collaborative process between the school’s various creative departments. 


Each participating school may select:


— One Award for Excellence winner —

—     Up to three Certificate of Merit  winners —


These students are then honored for their skill, dedication, and talent with an Award trophy or Certificate document presented to them onstage at The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater each Spring.




■ Teachers, administrators, and/or counselors at each participating high school who are best qualified to evaluate and recommend a student for recognition are asked to collaborate with one another to select one Award for Excellence recipient and up to three Certificate of Merit winners.


■ Students selected should represent the most promising junior-level talent in any of the following six disciplines: art, literature, dance, drama, music, and musical theater.


We suggest that selection be guided by goals specified in the National Standards for Arts Education available at


■ The decision to recognize high school juniors was made so that recipients could include the NSAL Award for Excellence and Certificate of Merit distinction on their college applications.  Although we ask that your consideration focus on young students who have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the arts, this is not a requirement.






Garrick Zoeter

Anna Lee Van Buren Associate Professor of Clarinet

Shenandoah University, Winchester VA


A committed teacher, Garrick Zoeter is also an internationally recognized clarinetist and woodwind pedagogue.  Prior to his tenure at Shenandoah Conservatory, Mr. Zoeter previously served on the clarinet and chamber music faculty of Wesleyan University (2002–07) and was clarinet professor at the Festival Eleazar de Carvalho in Fortaleza, Brasil (1997–2003).  A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Mr. Zoeter studied with Kenneth Lee and National Symphony Orchestra clarinetist William Wright. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School, studying with Charles Neidich. He received a master’s degree from Yale University as a student of David Shifrin.  Mr. Zoeter made his solo debut at 17 in Weber’s Concerto No. 1 with the NSO at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.




All Award for Excellence winners and Certificate of Merit Recipients alumni from the Class of 2014 were offered the opportunity to audition to be one of our performers onstage at The Kennedy Center.  We introduce to you the high school seniors who were chosen to perform at the 2015 Award for Excellence Ceremony.


Dance Performance by Nakia Abram

Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Washington DC


Double Bass Performance by Roy Auh

St. Albans School, Washington DC


Tenor Performance by Jamie Brown II

Heritage High School, Leesburg VA


Trumpet Performance by R.J. Doro

St. Albans School, Washington DC


Soprano Performance by Rachel Hahn

Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring MD


Soprano Performance by Mallory McCollum

Trinity Christian School, Fairfax VA


Classical Indian Dance Performance by Medha Swaminathan

Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda MD


Marimba Performance by Mari Takeda

Chantilly High School, Chantilly VA


Dance Performance by Isabella “Bella” Tenaglia

Heritage High School, Leesburg VA


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Maestro Luke Frazier


Luke Frazier was hailed by the late Marvin Hamlisch as “so talented and sensitive to every nuance” and called “a triple threat” by Northern Virginia Magazine for his work as a pianist, conductor, and vocal coach. The definition of a versatile musician, Mr. Frazier has conducted everything from Bach and Mozart to Broadway and Motown. He earned a B.A. in piano performance from West Virginia University and an M.A. in conducting from Ohio University. Last year, before his 30th birthday, he was named pops conductor of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. In addition he is music director of the National Broadway Chorus and artistic director for Nouveau Productions. Mr. Frazier has served as music director and conductor for Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno, leading a performance celebrating the Presidential Inauguration at The Kennedy Center.


During the past two years, Mr. Frazier has collaborated with producer Robert Pullen and choreographer Karma Camp on NSAL DC’s Broadway Master Class at The Kennedy Center. We are honored to have Maestro Frazier coach our student-performers.





NSAL’s objective is to encourage and assist promising young artists through arts competitions, scholarships, and other career opportunities.  Kristen Heaton, an alumna from the 2014 Award for Excellence in the Arts Program, is recognized by NSAL for her contributions to the visual arts.  A poster, with Kristen’s color photographic images below, was displayed in the lobby of the Terrace Theater during the Awards for Excellence ceremony.



Color Photography by Kristen Heaton

H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, Arlington VA





Color Photography by Kristen Heaton


Twin Fireworks, A Step in The Ice,

A Focused Drop, Reflected Forest


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NSAL Audition Chairman, Show Producer, Playbill Editor

Seth Arenstein




For more information please contact Award for Excellence Chairs

Gwinneth Clarkson and Lynn Gorton



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2014 Award for Excellence


2013 Award for Excellence


2012 Award for Excellence


2011 Award for Excellence


2010 Award for Excellence


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Katherine Carson Kyle