3 SPARC Students Chosen for Style Weekly “16 Under 16” Awards

Every year, Style Weekly’s 16 Under 16 program reveals Richmond’s most talented kids whose devotion to academics, community service and leadership put them in a league apart from their peers.  3 SPARC students, Madison Harris, Ellie Winkelmann and Naomi Vickers were chosen as part of this year’s group. 

*Special thanks to Style Weekly for allowing us to use the following photos and articles.  For the full article, pick up the latest Style Weekly, on newstands now, or visit http://bit.ly/9GUELh. 

Madison Harris

Watch out Richmond Ballet because we have your next candidate for the professional company, Madison Harris. Madision, 13, is an avid dancer who has dreams of becoming a pro on the stage in Richmond.  She has practiced ballet since age four and has also dabbled in jazz and modern dance.  Madison has performed in the Richmond Ballet since 2003, at Pine Camp, and with SPARC. She has also been a member of Richmond Ballet’s Minds in Motion Team for three consecutive years. The Minds in Motion Team takes dancers to New York City every year for their spring break to participate in dance intensives.  With the Richmond Ballet she performed four consecutive years in The Nutcracker and in the ballet’s 2010 production of Romeo and Juliet.  At SPARC she played the part of Jasmine in their production of Aladdin.  In addition, she previously performed in Theatre IV’s production of The Wizard of Oz.  Madison is not just a dancer; but, also a singer and pianist. She is currently a member of St. Catherine’s School choir, and served in Richmond’s Children Choir for one year.  “I like feeling good about my work and doing well. I think it will pay off in the long run.”  Her hard work has already paid off. Madison recently received straight A’s on her report card and is an honor roll student.  At school, her favorite class is Bible. “It’s fun because our teacher is fun and it’s fun to learn about God, Jesus, and other people in the Bible,” Madison explained.  When she is not on stage or studying diligently, Madison also makes time to assist her mother with feeding the homeless in the community.  Through her hard work and determination it is clear that this motivated 13 year old is out to make a difference on the stage and off. 

Ellie Winkelmann

Ellie Winkelmann, 15, is one bilingual 9th grader that you would not want to compete against in a swim meet.  From reading authentic Hebrew from the Torah at Temple Beth El to being a part of the French immersion program at JR Tucker High School, Ellie is sure to be ready for the international front post graduation. Next year she is planning on having a grand total of four classes in French!  Not only is she language savvy, but her swimming abilities are impressive as well. Ellie has been a part of the JCC Dolphin Swim Team since 2001. In 2009 she was the I.M. Xtreme Challenge Winner for her age group on a national level. Her winning was based on her performance in the 200IM, 400IM, 500 free style, 200 butterfly, 200 breaststroke, 200 back, and 200 free style.  At JR Tucker High School she is the Freshman class president and also the official school mascot.  Ellie is also quite the drama queen, not only for her school, but also for the JCC Jewish family theater and SPARC. Ellie has been with SPARC’s Summerstarz Touring Ensemble for 6 consecutive years. In 2006 she was the Kip Kephard Foundation Recipient and in 2007 she was given the Jeri Cutler Voltz Scholarship Award. Her most recent production with SPARC was ‘Lights Up’ at CenterStage this past January.  In addition to her pursuits in language, swimming, and the theatrical arts, Ellie also makes time for others in her community. She is a frequent volunteer at the Beth Sholom Home, and also participates in community service fundraising for the JCC Macabi Games, and the Rudlin Torah Academy, her alma mater.  So, whether you are looking for tips on how to order at a French Brasserie, or tips on having an award winning breaststroke, Ellie is your girl!

Naomi Vickers

Naomi Vickers, 11, is a 5th grade student at St. Catherine’s who knows what it means to live in the moment.  “I think pictures are fun because you can capture anything in a moment, so being in the moment is pretty cool,” Naomi said.  Naomi’s interpretation of capturing a moment stems directly from her modeling experience. Her photos have been featured in The Washington Post, Essence Magazine, Parent’s Magazine, Ebony Magazine, and on billboards and advertisements for Crest, Ski Dubai, Scholastic Books, Citibank, and other.  In addition to her ability to pose for the camera, she also comes to life on the stage as well. Naomi has played in several productions for SPARC. She is currently practicing bi-weekly for the Captain Louie production which will debut mid May.  At St. Catherine’s, Naomi received the esteemed Head’s Award for exemplifying the school’s values, and also recently was given the Leadership Award. She has also participated in championship winning basketball, swim, and soccer teams in the past year.  In addition to participating in her own school, Naomi has also collaborated with her mother to help make a difference in schools internationally. She helped raise money for a school in Ecuador by participating in a flag football game fundraiser as a cheerleader. She will also be on the board for Trinity Christian Academy, which is to be built in Tanzania.   As for her spare time, well, you may see her cruising around on a custom painted purple and pink polk-a-dotted bicycle that she bought used and had refurbished. Her reasoning for buying a used bicycle was to help reduce her own carbon footprint. “We’re on this earth together for a reason and since we’re the ones living on it, we need to take care of it the best we can,” Naomi said.

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