Viera High School’s Justin Miller named VSA Florida student of the month


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Wendy Hawkins from VSA Florida presents Justin Miller with the VSAFL Award for Student Artist of the Month on May 14 at Viera High School.

Photo by Susan West

Justin Miller takes 2-D Art and Computer Tech (digital art) under the guidance of Dr. Susan West at Viera High School. He is the manager of the girls soccer and boys lacrosse teams, volunteers at his church and mentors other students.

As impressive as he sounds, consider that Justin has physically limiting cerebral palsy yet plays ice hockey for a team of disabled youth. Also, he recently won the VSA Florida student of the month award for exemplifying outstanding work in and through the arts.

“I am very grateful to be receiving this award,” Miller said. “Especially for art because I have been passionate about art since elementary school when I learned how to draw King Tut. Ever since, I have never stopped drawing or painting.”

VSA is an international organization on arts, education and disability headquartered in Washington, D.C. VSA, formerly Very Special Arts, has proven through research that students who participate in the arts develop creativity, increase self-confidence, understand teamwork, improve language and math skills and are generally more engaged.

According to West, engagement isn’t a problem for Miller.

“Justin answers every question I pose to the class whether about an artist or a technique. He also mentors a student with no limiting abilities other than the fact that he lacks motivation and is undisciplined. Justin showed the student that even though his work might not be accurate, it shows perseverance. The student finally realized that if he persists, he too can achieve satisfactory results.”

According to West, Miller works independently without complaint.

“Justin is a super person, always positive with a high level of motivation to achieve,” West said. “He demonstrates knowledge of a wide range of art vocabulary. He is superb at completing art criticism activities and when working in a group, is the leader.”

Miller completes his art projects, often with the given media such as paint or markers, completing a more refined version on the computer. Learning to use a computer for art was a turning point for him.

“When I entered middle school, I discovered Photoshop and its abilities to produce drawings and paintings. I enjoy working on the computer more because there is no mess on my hands,” Miller said.

VSAFL will feature him on vsafl.org and in an upcoming newsletter. He received a personalized award and a gift card.

“Justin has always had a love for art,” his mother, Sherry Miller said. “We are so very proud of him. We call him Jusincredible, because he is.”

Miller plans to continue his education and pursue a career in digital enhanced images.