Four Lenexa high school seniors win Lenexa Arts Council scholarships; program to be discontinued

Lenexa Mayor Michael Boehm (left) and Lenexa Arts Council member Wayne Dothage (right) presented the scholarships to recipients, from left: Elizabeth Joseph, Gabriella Herrera and Maggie Yonker. Scholarship recipient Catherine Steinacker is not pictured.

Four local seniors have received scholarships from the Lenexa Arts Council for their artistic talents — but they’ll be the last for the foreseeable future.

The Lenexa Arts Council Scholarship Committee honored the young artists at the Lenexa council meeting April 2. Wayne Dothage, a member of the arts council and chair of the committee, presented the scholarships, which will be sent to the college or university where each student will be attending.

Gabriella Herrara with her award-winning artwork.

“This is always a special night when we’re able to recognize the achievements of the young people who have shown outstanding abilities in the fields of visual, performing and literary arts,” Dothage said, adding that the quality of applications were “really up” compared to past years. “In fact, the evaluators said that a lot of the awards came down to one or two points’ difference between the scholarship application, so it was difficult for them.”

The scholarship recipients, who are all Lenexa residents, include:

  • Visual Art winner – Gabriella Herrera, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School. The evaluators were particularly impressed by her “elaborate” shading. Herrera received $1,000.
  • Performing Art 1st place – Catherine Steinacker, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School (not present at the meeting). The evaluators noted her “impeccable” accuracy in tone, pitch and bowing as a violinist. Steinacker received $1,000.
  • Performing Art 2nd place – Maggie Yonker, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School. The evaluators noted her “pure tone” and “great knowledge” as a saxophonist when she played her music piece unaccompanied. Yonker received $500.
  • Literary Art winner – Elizabeth Joseph, Mill Valley High School. The evaluators enjoyed Joseph’s “relaxed” writing style that gives insight into her thinking process. She is also a published author. Joseph received $500.

Dothage added his thanks to application evaluators as well as Susanne Neely, Lenexa recreation supervisor, for coordinating the scholarship program.

Rob Robinson, chair of the Lenexa Arts Council, noted in meeting minutes that the arts council will discontinue the scholarship program “at least in the near future.”

“The program started in 1987 as a way to recognize and support high school seniors who excel in art,” Robinson wrote. “At the time, there were not many other opportunities for art scholarships in Johnson County (Lenexa was a forerunner in this area). Throughout recent years, we have seen a decline in the participation in the scholarship program, possibly due to more opportunities in Johnson County, including the Shooting Stars program of the Arts Council of Johnson County.”

The arts council plans to allocate scholarship funds toward other programming such as the new Art Talk series, poetry events and the City Center Live performing arts series.