LACHSA Students Honored as Presidential Arts Awards Nominees and National Arts Award Winners

Mon Mar 20 00:00:00 PDT 2023

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) students Esmé Nix and Paul Zenas, who earned distinguished honors as nominess for 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts awards.

As winners of the National YoungArts Competition, Esme was recognized for achievements in filmmaking and Paul was recognized for accomplishments in theater. 

Esme and Paul are among 60 students nationwide recognized by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars as recipients of Presidential Scholar in the Arts Awards, which are awarded for academic and artistic accomplishments, demonstrated leadership, community service and outreach initiatives, and overall creativity. 

Both students have earned significant distinction for their work. Esme has received numerous academic achievement awards in addition to many honors for her films and Paul is a Drama Teachers Association of Southern California-award winning actor, stage director and producer.   

“I congratulate Esme’ and Paul for their outstanding honors and applaud all of these amazing students for their inspiring artistic creativity and overall achievements and thank the dedicated educators who share in these honors,” said Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Duardo. “Arts education is vital to improving and uplifting students, so we share with the LACHSA school community great pride in their accomplishments.”

Each year since 1982, the National YoungArts Awards selects several hundred young artists from tens of thousands of entries from across the nation and the Award is the highest honor bestowed on high school seniors from 21 states representing 9 artistic disciplines. Winners are chosen for their caliber of artistic achievement by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. 

In addition to the honors for Nix and Zenas, twenty-one LACHSA students were also recognized for merit, honorable mention, and finalist awards in the National Arts Competition. The complete list of winners includes: 


Film: Esmé Nix—Narrative 

Theatre: Paul Zenas—Spoken Only 

Voice: Lily Zager—Popular (Pop) 



Eli Press-Reynolds—Narrative 

Andrew Santibanez Vela—Narrative 

Liya Zech—Narrative 


Arlo Erwin—Composition 

William Schwartzman—Piano 


Chelsea Chiu—Jazz 

Drew Olivia Tillman—Popular (Pop) 



Izabella Alagao 


Andrea Ramirez Romo—Narrative 

Max Schneiderman—Narrative 


Joaquin Garde—Guitar 

Taylor Lee—Piano 

Stellan Swanlund—Piano 


Simone Baker—Singer-Songwriter 

Liana Bartolome—Popular (Pop) 

Kaitlyn Hajj—Singer-Songwriter 

Adam Hirose—Singer-Songwriter 

Rose Morris—Singer-Songwriter 

Molly Steinman—Popular (Pop) 

Charlotte Zhang—Singer-Songwriter 

Winners receive cash prizes between $100 and $10,000, a medallion, a lifetime of creative and professional support, and access to Young Arts Post, a private, online portal for YoungArts artists to connect, share their work and discover new opportunities. 

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) students Esmé Nix and Paul Zenas.