PENNINGTON – The Hopewell Valley Arts Council proudly awarded its annual scholarships to four Hopewell Valley Central High School 2021 graduating seniors Seraphina Gillman, Olivia Levin, Nicole Bartnikowski, and David LaRaus. For the seventh year in a row, applicants represented the community’s best and most creative students.
“These scholarships are a critical part of our mission in encouraging creativity in the Hopewell Valley community and fostering a lifelong participation in the arts,” said HV Arts Council board president, Carol Lipson.
Scholarship winners were those who illustrated substantial talent and deep interest in their selected area of study, and a commitment to further their education in any aspect of the arts, including fine arts, performing arts, culinary arts, literary arts, or other forms of creative expression. 
This year’s HV Arts Council Scholarship award winners all work in different media, but share a passion for the arts and its ability to shed light on the workings of their inner self and the community.  
Visual artist Seraphina Gillman, speaks about overcoming hard times by connecting with her art and herself. “These are my goals: to be an artist and to focus my skills on providing others with the same opportunities I’ve been afforded… I believe in the power of art to lift people up, and I want to share that power with others.”
As an incoming freshman at Maine College of Art. Gillman marvels at many instances of art however insignificant:  “Art is in everything: the design of a restaurant sign, the way that restaurant’s waiting room is organized and the paintings on its walls, the music playing on the radio on the ride home…”
Thespian David LaRaus’s love for acting enriches his inner-life. “Because of the love and passion I have for art, and the feeling of escaping my worries in life, it has become something that I plan to pursue.” LaRaus will be attending Mercer County Community College in the fall as an undecided major.
Senior Olivia Levin is inspired to pursue musical theater and environmental science as dual majors. Levin views her “mission as a performer is not just to entertain but to bring light into the lives of others,” and shares, “This desire to serve others and incite social change will drive my work in college as a musical theatre major.”
Nicole Bartnikowski is a first-generation college student of Polish descent whose childhood spent interpreting for her parents paved the way for a double major in photography and journalism at The New School in New York City.
“My goal is to use the creative and life skills I learned through the years to help advocate for those who aren’t being heard. The arts at Hopewell have enriched my life and given me a purpose…. I’m able to blend the two [photography and journalism] to create a platform to fight for social justice and aid others,” Bartnikowski said.
Though their art and creative perspectives may vary, the 2021 scholarship winners share a bright future for the arts in Hopewell Valley.