JMArts honors top student artists at 2023 JM Senior Awards Ceremony

Siler City, NC – Twenty-one Jordan-Matthews High School actors, dancers, musicians and visual artists were honored for their outstanding work by JMArts, the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation, at the school’s 2023 Senior Awards Ceremony, held on May 25 to honor top students across many disciplines.

Many Jordan-Matthews High School arts students attended the school’s 2023 Senior Awards Ceremony in late May, along with band director JC Harper, to receive recognition as JMArts Scholars or as outstanding graduates or young artists in band, dance, theater, visual arts and vocal music. (Photo by Rose Pate)

JMArts Scholar Buck Thornton was named the 2023 Outstanding Graduate in Band. The saxophone player was a regular member of the Chatham All-County and Jammin’ Jets Marching bands, while also participating in vocal music and theater, including as the title character in “Shrek The Musical.” Band director JC Harper said Thornton was selected for his outstanding musicianship and superb collaboration skills. Thornton plans to enroll this fall in The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rossilyn Brooks was named the 2023 Outstanding Graduate in Dance. In JM’s first year of dance instruction, Brooks was a standout dancer, choreographing a hip hop concert piece and leading her group in executing creative and original movement. Dance teacher Tara Rooks said Brooks was a leader in class, always willing to help other students and provide support on concert pieces. Brooks plans to enroll this fall in Central Carolina Community College.

Mylie Cardman was named the 2023 Outstanding Graduate in Theater. She recently performed in “Shrek The Musical,” Almost, Maine,” “Oklahoma!” and “The Lottery,” and earned accolades in JM’s newly-created Theatre Arts I class for her insight during class-led discussions. Theater teacher Sawyer Shafer said Cardman’s passion and dedication to theater is impossible to ignore and her high-quality work as a director on “Her Heart” in “Almost, Maine,” showed that her potential for the art will continue to grow. Cardman plans to enroll this fall in The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

JMArts Scholar Victoria Barlow was named the 2023 Outstanding Graduate in Visual Art, having taken a leadership role as president of the Art Club, planned and created sets for “Shrek The Musical,” and entered more than five art shows, even during a challenging environment caused by the pandemic and changing art faculty. Art teacher Kim Phillips said Barlow was selected for her quality work, love of art and dedication to many art classes over her four years. Barlow plans to enroll this fall in UNC Greensboro.

Ainsley Canipe and Sanaiya Cheek were both named 2023 Outstanding Graduates in Vocal Music.

During her two years in JM choral music, Canipe was selected for the Chatham All-County Chorus in its first incarnation after the pandemic hiatus and was a leader in her section. Choral director Elliott Peterson said her contributions have been immeasurable as a volunteer with various choirs and she has a true excitement for learning new music. Canipe plans to enroll this fall in Syracuse (N.Y.) University.

Known as a pillar of the choir, Cheek has performed in every concert during her two years in choral music, often with more than one group, and has been a member of casts for “Shrek The Musical” and “Oklahoma!” Peterson said Cheek is one of the hardest working, kindest and most dedicated students he’s had the pleasure to work with, and that has been a factor in the choir’s overall success. Cheek plans to plans to enroll this fall in North Carolina A&T University.

Other awards recognized outstanding students early in their high school studies who have already demonstrated significant artistic potential.

Isabella Palacios, a junior, received the 2023 Young Actor Award for directing a scene in “Almost, Maine” last fall and for her seasoned performances in “Almost, Maine” and “Shrek The Musical,” even though this was her first year onstage.

Ariel Maravilla Estrada, a freshman, received the 2023 Young Artist Award for his expertise in drawing and shading, but also for work preparing props for “Shrek The Musical.”

Samantha Wieber, a sophomore, received the 2023 Young Dancer Award for putting her heart and soul into every class, demonstrating a commitment to dance and growing leaps and bounds during the year.

Alejandro Benitez Espinoza, a freshman, and Carolyn Lucero Santiago, a sophomore, both received 2023 Young Instrumentalist Awards. Benitez Espinoza was honored for his passion for music and outstanding work ethic, while Lucero Santiago was recognized for musicianship, growth and perseverance through adversity.

Luis Ciriaco Regino, a freshman, received the 2023 Young Vocalist Award for starting the semester knowing nothing about reading music and ending as one of the strongest new music readers in his class — as well as being dedicated to elevating the entire ensemble.

Also honored during the ceremony were nine recently announced JMArts Scholars, each one earning a scholarship for intensive arts study over the summer — most at a weeklong, residential workshop offered on a university campus. They are Abigail Cockrum, Sandra Lopez, Serena Pietri, Clara Rojas, David Ta’Bon, Andrey Ureña-Seceña, Karsyn Vann, Elizabeth Vasquez Perez and Traycee Wall.

More information about JMArts — including details about awards, JMArts Scholars and upcoming events — is available at