Students » Proud to be a Knight!

Proud to be a Knight!

Check this page regularly to see the amazing things our current students and our alumni do. 

This year's PFAA Knights!

In May 2022,  our wonderful In the Heights cast won Best Overall Production at the The Rita Moreno California High School Musical Honors

Being nominated alone is a huge achievement, and winning is an honor; but we were proudest of their kindness towards the other nominated casts!

Mrs. Stripling and students on stage

Students were ready to bring Spring Dance Celebration back on stage! (photos by Abelardo Cisneros)

Congratulations Mac Stern, for taking the 2nd place in Sacramento County's Poetry Out Loud contest in February 2022!


Where are they now?

Alumni, please contact Mr. Love or Mrs. Prettol to be featured!

From Rachel Finerman, 2015 PFAA graduate:

Upon graduating from Charter in 2015, I studied at UC San Diego and completed a 5-year combined Bachelor/Master program, where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in International Business and my Master’s degree in International Economics. My program included a regional focus in China, where I learned Chinese and studied abroad at Peking University for a semester in 2017. 

After graduating from university, I’ve pursued a career in the Spatial Data Analysis and Space Industries. My current company, called ICEYE, builds and operates satellites, and we sell our satellites and satellite imagery. My role as a Project Manager includes managing the delivery of complex satellite and imagery projects to our customers. After joining the company in their California office, I pursued the opportunity to advance my career in their headquarters in Finland. I moved to Finland 1 year ago and currently live in Helsinki, doing what I love and experiencing life abroad!

After graduating from Charter, I’ve always pushed the boundaries of what others have done before me in my programs and career, and I’m grateful to Charter for allowing me to pursue all of my interests - academics, dance, and theater - all at once. It wasn’t easy, but with the support of the teachers, I accomplished everything I did successfully, and this pattern has continued seven years beyond high school graduation. Although I didn’t pursue performing arts as a career, it’s still a huge part of my life. For example, I tap dance in Finland, and it’s been amazing getting to meet some of the international tap dance community and continue to learn and grow in the art form!


From Julia Kuzmich, 2019 PFAA graduate:

As the first and only musical theatre distinction graduate of my class (2019), I would love to share what I’m working on for aspiring theatre artists at PFAA.

I just finished my junior year in the inaugural musical theatre class at Ohio University. I got to play my dream role as Natasha, in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.” We were also the first regional company to produce this play after its run on Broadway because the composer is an alumni of the university. 

Now, I have my first professional gig in the Utah Shakespeare Festival as Liesl in “The Sound of Music” and a soprano ensemble member of “Sweeney Todd.” 

Natomas Charter gave me great tools and foundational skills to pursue this career. Abelardo Cisneros taught a fantastic ballet class infused with pilates that inspired me to get my certification in pilates instruction. Vocal ensemble also gave me the skill set of being able to blend in a group and increase my self confidence. 



My name is Itzel Cruz and I graduated from PFAA in 2016.

I graduated from California State University Chico in 2020 with a bachelor of arts in journalism and a minor in Spanish. I currently work as a journalist at KOMO News in Seattle WA.

My official role is called assignment desk editor and I work behind the scenes in the newsroom. My job is to collect information, do investigative work and decide what’s the most important news to cover that day and who reports what. 

On a typical day at work I listen to multiple police scanners for breaking news. I take news tips by answering phone calls, reading emails and monitoring social media. I also contact many law-enforcement agencies to confirm information we get. I do all that and much more. Assignment desk editors play a vital role in putting on successful newscast and require great organization skills as well as an ability to maintain calm under pressure.  

I think broadcast news would be a great avenue for many graduating from PFAA as it’s much like putting on a production a kin to those done in theater. There are scripts, snazzy outfits, hair and make up, and a performance put on for many viewers sitting at home. For those most comfortable behind the scenes (like myself) there are many roles that function behind the scenes like writing articles and producing shows, shooting and editing video, and directing the newscast from the control room of a studio. 


My name is Lauren Santillano (née Haley) and I am a PFAA alumna class of 2007. 
At PFAA, my focus was music (guitar, piano) and visual art. I did not pursue the arts in college or as a career. I graduated from Sac State in 2012 with a BA in Sociology and Political Science. I’ve worked in tech since graduating, with my customers being state and local government agencies.
My husband, Marcus Santillano is also an alumnus class of 2006. We met at PFAA in muraling class and have been together ever since, with a 19 month old daughter. We live near downtown Sacramento. 


From Marcos Seide

Congratulations NCS on your 30th Anniversary! 

Hard to believe it's been 12 years since my middle school promotion in PFAA and 8 years since I graduated from VLA; been up to quite a lot since then! In terms of academics, I graduated in 2019 from Sacramento State with my Bachelor's Degree in Social Work with minors in both Art Education and Criminal Justice. Most recently, just graduated three months ago in May 2022 from San Diego State with my Master's Degree in Social Work with an emphasis on Administration and Community Development. 

Professionally, I have been active with NASW-CA, the National Association of Social Workers California Chapter. I was elected and served on their Board of Directors from 2018-2019 as the Student Director for Northern California, where I established the Student Director Facebook Page to get social work students across California connected to their representatives on their professional development association. Currently, I am serving my second term on their membership committee which seeks to serve members, expand chapter membership, and ensure diversity within the association. 

Right now, taking some time for self-care after finishing graduate school. That brings me to my advice for prospective and future NCS students: never be afraid to relax, take time for yourself, and enjoy life. Self-care (taking care of yourself) is vital to ensure your academic success. 


From Carolyn (Judson) Urso:

When I started attending Natomas Charter School, I was excited to be able to not only take classes in all types of art, but to find other people like me.  We were a special group who found ourselves in those formidable years through the art that we created.  I loved my oil painting classes and acting classes, but really found where I belonged in my dance classes with the other teachers and dancers involved.  I was taking ballet classes outside of school in the evenings, but was so lucky to get to take tap and jazz and modern at Natomas Charter to help me follow my dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer.  In addition to providing me the ability to learn to be a well-rounded dancer, the administrative team created a way for me to study long-distance as I left for my senior year to train full-time with the Houston Ballet Academy.  Because of that experience, I was able to graduate and walk with my class of 2002 and lay the groundwork that led to 19 years as a professional ballet dancer.

I got a job with artistic director, Ben Stevenson, whom I followed to Texas Ballet Theater in Fort Worth, Texas in 2003.  I danced there with him for my entire career and just retired this past spring of 2022 in order to spend more time with my husband and 2 kids, ages 5 and 2, and to continue to teach Gyrotonic and be a holistic health coach.  

photo courtesy of Dance Open America


Kyleigh Brine is a class of 2011 NCS-PFAA Alumni. She earned a MFA in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in Choreography at Wilson College and a BFA in dance from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was awarded the Dance Education Laboratory Scholarship and the Patricia Sparrow Scholarship to further her dance studies in New York, and earned the Emerging Choreographer Award (2015).

Kyleigh’s choreographic work has been awarded on the National Level, (Teen Dance Star, 2017), and adjudicated at the American College Dance Association western region concert (2019). Most recently she moved to San José from Humboldt County where she was a Professor at Cal Poly Humboldt within the Theater, Film, and Dance Department, to become a Professor at San José State University teaching Modern, Jazz, Ballet and tap technique. Kyleigh has danced professionally with CORE contemporary dance, Comedian Hannibal Buress, Trillium Dance Ensemble, Printz Dance Project (SF) and is delighted to be currently dancing for Limón based company under the direction of Gary Masters and Maria Basile, sjDANCEco.


A word from Tyler Kashow, 2015 PFAA graduate:

I went to Sac State to pursue a degree in bassoon performance and music education, and then moved on to the University of Oregon for a master’s degree in bassoon performance. I have been able to work with many composers through college and meet them, like Omar Thomas and Frank Ticheli. I got the chance to go to New York City this past summer(2022) to do a chamber music and career building workshop with Imani Winds. I also am a part of a new music ensemble that I formed with some composers and we are focused on performing music by newer composers. I am currently working with 3 composers on writing pieces for bassoon and contrabassoon about Greek mythology and performing them on a recital next spring. I also am going to be pursuing a DMA in bassoon after my master’s degree is done. My goals for the future are to have my own chamber ensemble and teach at a university.


A word from Angela Patterson, 2018 PFAA graduate:

After I graduated from PFAA, I went on to attend Morgan State University, a historically black college located in Baltimore, Maryland. This past May, I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in social work. This upcoming fall, I will be attending Columbia University to pursue a Master’s degree in social work specializing in advanced clinical practice with a concentration in children and family services. My career goal is to become a licensed clinical school social worker, but I aspire to create my own school-based mental health program one day. 

A word from Emily Hughes, 2006 PFAA graduate:

I graduated PFAA in 2006. I grew up dancing and performing and enjoyed my time spent at PFAA. I still remember the day our high school physics teacher gave us breadboards and taught us about circuits. I loved the creativity it took to wire the circuits in new and exciting ways. After graduating PFAA I went to college and got my degree in Electrical Engineering – Power Systems. I worked as a Transmission Planning Engineer for several years. Running studies to ensure there is enough electricity to run the power grid. Recently I started working in Regulatory and Legislative tracking. I monitor and review energy policy across all western states. I get the opportunity to present my ideas in front of state and local government officials. The performing arts gave me the confidence and love of public speaking. I still use lessons learned from my time at PFAA to this day!