Meet Santiago

Tampa Prep is the best school you can go to because we have more freedom than other schools. You can learn outside, sit wherever you want at lunch time (no assigned seats) and you don’t need to be in a perfect line ever, or sit in rows in class.

It’s important to me that I get to be creative and “color outside the lines”–that’s why I love art. You can do anything you want. I’ve been drawing since I was about four years old. I do lots of pencil drawings of landscapes and plants because I like all the detail they have. I also do 3D art like clay and paper.

Besides art, language is big in our family because my dad teaches Upper School Spanish here and my mom teaches Middle School Spanish and French here. I was born in Portugal and lived there for four years, so I speak Portuguese, French and Spanish.

I also love skateboarding! I’ve been doing it for six years. I’m at the skatepark three times a week and for hours on weekends. I compete a lot. I like to win, but I’m not there for winning. I just want to see how other people skate so I can learn from them.

My advice to future Terrapins? Don’t play video games. Draw or be outside or talk to people or do some homework.

Santiago is also interested in

Tampa Prep middle school art teacher Martha DeAmbrose

Ms. Martha DeAmbrose on Santiago

Santiago–we call him Santi–is very observant about everything going on around him, which serves him well as an artist. When I’m giving directions or asking for examples, he’s definitely thinking ahead of me and will make a suggestion that a fellow classmate can add onto, like, he’s asking leading questions in a way. He’s an animated, confident young man who’s not afraid to compliment someone else’s work. He’ll say, “I like that, how’d you do that?” But he’ll also respectfully offer his opinion, “Don’t do that, man, that wouldn’t look right.”

I have been most impressed with his ability to draw still life from perspective, not from a picture. We think in 3D, but he can effortlessly translate that into 2D on paper. His ideas seem to come so naturally, but I know he practices a lot on his own time.

Santi is engaged, creative and ready to experiment with each technique. Every ten days we work with a new medium–drawing, working with watercolors, ink–and he’s not afraid to dive in. He consistently works up until the bell to get the outcome he wants. So if he’s printing and it’s messy, he’ll keep going until he gets a clean print. He owns his actions and corrects himself when he knows he’s off. And he doesn’t hesitate to help clean up. That really stands out, at any age.