Student News

Our students are constantly earning top awards in the arts and other practices. Below, we have posted a few of those for which we have received a formal submission concerning awards and other news. Enjoy.

Congratulations Anna!  And Thanks for Rocking our World!  

Here’s a wonderful example of what happens when we tap the hidden opportunities for creative life that hide inside our constraints. That is art.

This video animation was recently created by AAHP alumna Anna Boffice, one of our first students when the AAHP was still the Creative Genius Workshop, on my kitchen table, here in Highland Park. Anna was an amazing member of our community throughout her childhood and teens years, in her roles as studio practitioner, volunteer and  employee. Her sister, Andrea, and mother Stephanie—our longest running studio practitioner to this day—have also played very large and important roles in building our community of creatives.

 The piece is titled Stay-at-Home Commute. Ana presented it as her final project for the class, “Mapping Philadelphia”, a graduate-level course in Urban Studies, University of Pennsylvania. Her teacher was Paul Farber.

 The project centered on “a close study” of any region of the city of Philadelphia, at any scale. “I decided to use the assignment,” said Anna, “to explore a facet of my personal relationship with the city in the time of COVID-19. The pandemic,” she added, “eliminated my routine interaction with the larger part of the city through my daily commute to work. I used to travel from one end of the city to the other every day, and now I rarely journey more than a few blocks. My goal was to re-create and re-imagine my commute as I remember it, within the confines of my new stay-at-home “commute”, using materials within reach.”

Check out Philadelphia Magazine’s article on Anna’s project 

Congratulations Daniel!

AAHP student Daniel L. was selected as one of the runners up in the county-wide 3rd Grade Bookmark Design Contest by Keep Middlesex Moving. Congratulations on your achievement!

Father and Daughter Art Show

Father and daughter, Joyce and Zequian Mo, will have a joint exhibit at the Highland Park Library starting August 3, 2019. The exhibit is called, “Hanging in There: Drawings & Paintings by Joyce Mo, daughter and Poetry & Calligraphy by Z. Mo, Father.” To read the full article about their achievement, please click here.

Artwork by Joyce Mo and Zequian Mo. (photo: courtesy of Highland Park Library)

Mayu Burr

and the Art of Linocut Printmaking

We have been enchanted by these hand-made prints by local artist and adult AAHP practitioner Mayu Burr. Mayu, now exploring deeper craft matters in her oil painting practice here at our studios, has been developing delicate printing techniques in her home studio practice. She has been working on fine cardstock made for watercolor postcards, traditional linocut tools, craft knives, linoleum, and ink stamp pads she purchases in Japan.

Mayu makes her own stamps and her own linocuts. For the fish pattern, Mayu created a single stamp, whereas she created various linocuts for the cat and tortoise, so that she could print in various colors.

Mayu’s “chop” or signature stamp is itself a tidy lesson in design; she also cleverly used it compositionally as the greenery for one pineapple in one of her very delicate compositions.

Congratulations Diya!

#1 Winner, at the Local, State, and National Level

Diya with her various awards, and a facsimile of her winning poster (rear)

On behalf of the entire AAHP artist community, the Senior Staff at the Academy of Art of Highland Park—Ana, Aaron, and Alina—congratulate Diya N. for being the very top winner at a very important national poster contest.


AAHP student extraordinaire Diya N. age 13, of NJ


Diya is the National Winner of the 2017-2018 school year Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) National Cyber Security Poster Contest. The contest set out to use the graphic arts to raise awareness about cyber-security. Diya’s poster, which portrays a mobile phone caught on a fish hook, focuses on the dangers of getting hooked by the scamming methods of “phishing”.


Diya won her national award on July 3, 2018.

Diya at her class with us at the AAHP


Diya’s poster will be featured in the 2019 MS-ISAC Cyber Security Awareness Calendar and on the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) website.


Every NJ school participating in the contest was allowed to submit two entries. Diya’s school chose her poster as its local winner. Diya then went on to win a the state level, and ran with the winner’s title all the way to become the one and only winner a the national level! The competition was fierce and consisted of thousands of entries.


Because as artist, she is a smart problem-solver, innovative thinker, and builder wherever she may find herself. Here at the AAHP, Diya is a strong learner and a top practitioner in her age group. As a generous team player, she also serves through our Volunteers Ixtraordinaires Program (VIP); we also have our sights on her as a 2019 member of our Studio Management and Responsive Teaching Trust (SMaRTT), that is, our training program for Teen Teaching Assistants, also known in our studio as “Coaches”. Keep rockin’ it, Diya!

Congratulations Alina!!!


Congratulations to Alina Gorbunova, 18, for having graduated high school as part of the Class of 2018. Alina graduated with Honors on June 21, 2018 from the East Brunswick High School.

At the AAHP studio, Alina began as part of the SMaRTT program six years ago and quickly rose through the coach ranks for her teaching skills, dedication to the job, and commitment to her students. Alina is a powerhouse in studio. Just this year, she was one of the very few students ever to be promoted to the AAHP Senior Staff; she is now our very beloved and popular Junior Instructor.

Ana E. Soto-Canino, chief director at the AAHP, was deeply honored to have received Alina’s invitation to her graduation ceremony. The artist’s life that we all share is more than just standing at next to each other at our easels—it is being part of a strong community of individuals who support each others’ remarkable achievements both inside and outside the studio.

The Academy of Art of Highland Park wishes her the best of luck in college; she will study engineering at Rutgers University while remaining part of our community of strong artists.