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Justin Yan, Colleyville Heritage High School, Jesse Tan, Plano West Senior High School, Peter O'Donnell, Nicole Wojtania, Plano West Senior High School, Colin Chan, Plano East Senior High School

The O’Donnell Foundation announces the recipients of the 2017 Excellence in AP® Arts and Music Theory Scholarship Awards.  The scholarship recognizes four outstanding high school seniors who have participated in or are currently participating in the O’Donnell Foundation’s AP Fine Arts Incentive Program at Dallas-area high schools, including three Plano-area high school students.

Each student will receive a $20,000 scholarship.  The 2017 Excellence in AP Arts and Music Theory scholarship recipients are:

  • Colin Chan, Plano East Senior High School
  • Jesse Tan, Plano West Senior High School
  • Nicole Wojtania, Plano West Senior High School
  • Justin Yan, Colleyville Heritage High School

The scholarship recipients, their families, teachers, school administrators and school board members were honored at a reception held on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, hosted by Edith and Peter O’Donnell at the Communities Foundation of Texas. 

At the appointed time, attendees took their seats as Deborah Moore, director for AP Fine Arts Incentive Program, welcomed all guests. Peter O’Donnell followed to congratulate this year’s recipients on behalf of him and his wife, Edith O’Donnell.  He recognized Edith’s life-long passion and many accomplishments in support of the arts, including the Advanced Placement Fine Arts Incentive Program. 

The AP Fine Arts teachers from the recipients’ respective schools then introduced each student, sharing the many attributes and achievements which made the award winner deserving of this prestigious scholarship.  

Each of the scholarship recipients revealed the value of art and music during their high school careers and how they view its ongoing importance in college and beyond.  All expressed their gratitude to the O’Donnell Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas, as well as their teachers and families for their ongoing support and inspiration.

Colin Chan, who plans to attend Rice University to pursue a double major in chemistry and art history, shared, “I hope to find a career in the medical field, all the while giving back to the arts community.  Art has given me a creative outlet; a chance to stretch my mind in ways not offered in any other study or class.”

Plano West Senior High School’s Jesse Tan, who will “most likely attend John Hopkins University in fall to study biomedical engineering,” thanked his AP Fine Arts teachers for challenging him throughout his high school career.

Tan said, “Some of the main tenants I have taken away as a student heavily involved in the fine arts include a spirit of creative innovation, a willingness to take risks, and an avid desire to tackle rigorous coursework.  My instructors for my fine arts courses have frequently challenged me to develop my own train of independent thought and to hone my sense of intellectual curiosity.  Whether it be through analyzing potential motives behind a piece of contemporary artwork or puzzling out the correct chords and harmonies in a musical composition, such stimulating courses have really served and encouraged me to foster an ambitious mind that looks to the future.”

Nicole Wojtania of Plano West Senior High School said, “Whatever I pursue in the future, my art and humanities classes have provided me with the tools to become a well-informed accomplished citizen who contributes to and meets the needs of a global society.” Wojtania plans to attend either Harvard University or MIT with the hope of majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in business or economics.

Justin Yan of Colleyville Heritage High School credits his AP Music Theory class, with teacher Casey Muckley, as one of his most enriching courses. “Studying piano has taught me that successfully interpreting music relies on three things: paying attention to detail, never losing sight of the big picture. and always asking ‘why,’” he said. “Even though I plan to study computer science at Princeton University this fall, I believe that the lessons music has taught me are invaluable in any field.”

The O’Donnell Foundation sponsors the annual scholarship program to provide financial assistance to exemplary AP Studio Art, Art History, and Music Theory students so they can attend and graduate from the college of their choice in four years.   It is also hoped that the scholarship will encourage other promising AP Arts and Music Theory students to pursue excellence academically, personally and professionally. 

Selection criteria include academic performance, ability to think independently and creatively, strength of character and integrity, strong leadership, commitment to earning a college or university degree in four consecutive years with a 3.0 GPA, and knowledge and application of arts or music.  The 2017 Scholarship Selection Committee was comprised of community volunteers, business leaders and arts supporters including Hong Bass, Kathy Bishop and Harvey Mitchell.

Contributions to the Excellence in AP Arts & Music Theory Award Scholarship Fund may be made through the Communities Foundation of Texas.  For more information or to make a gift, visit 

About AP Arts

The O’Donnell Foundation’s Advanced Placement Fine Arts Program was founded twenty-three years ago to motivate high school students’ interest and success in rigorous college-level fine arts courses. This year, 137 teachers and 1,661 students from 16 Dallas-area high schools participate in the program. Courses include AP Art History, AP Studio Art Drawing, AP Studio Art 2D Design, AP Studio Art 3D Design, and AP Music Theory. Pre-AP courses may include any classes that prepare students for AP arts courses. The Foundation also provides superior AP and Pre-AP training in the schools that participate in the program.

Based on the 2016 College Board AP fine arts qualifying exam results of a “3” or higher, the Foundation’s grant schools account for 19% of the state’s qualifying AP Fine Arts exams; 29% of the state’s qualifying AP Art History exams, 25% of the state’s qualifying AP Music Theory exams, and 13% of the state’s qualifying AP Studio Art exams. Eight of the Program’s schools are included in the top ten state rankings for comprehensive AP Fine Arts schools (campuses that offer all three disciplines: AP Studio Art, AP Art History, and AP Music Theory). Eighty-nine percent of the Foundation’s AP Fine Arts students taking an AP Fine Arts exam in 2016 received a qualifying score. 

Since its founding in 1994, more than 19,000 arts and music students have benefited from the O’Donnell Foundation’s AP incentive programs. Last year, graduating seniors earned over $34 million in scholarships. 

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