Johnston, Lanier, Pin Oak, The Rice School Students Place In One Act Play Competition
Over the past two weeks, the Houston Independent School District UIL Academics and Fine Arts Department hosted the 2nd annual Middle School One Act Play competition, showcasing the talent found in the district’s middle school programs. Fifteen schools participated in the two-part contest. Typically, middle schools are not allowed to have preliminary competitions, but due to a high participation level HISD received special permission from the UIL State Theatre Director to allow campuses to compete in four preliminary competitions with the top two entries from each contest advancing to the district championship.
The district championship was held recently at Johnston Middle School. And the winners are…
District Champion: Johnston Middle School’s production of The Bald Soprano;
2nd Place: Briarmeadow Charter School’s production of Bury the Dead;
3rd Place: Lanier Middle School’s production of Of Winners, Losers, and Games;
Best Actor: Wesley Whitson from Westbriar Middle School;
Best Actress: Savannh Scardaville from Johnston Middle School;
Best Crew: Mattie Mills, Brigit Benestante, Sara Donovan, and Kathryn Cornish from Lanier Middle School.
“Many students struggle not with letters and numbers but with the challenge of public speaking and the ability to express themselves,” said Melody Torno, Theatre Arts director and teacher at Lanier. “Competitions such as the HISD One Act Play contest help to destroy the fear of public speaking and teach students about communication, creativity and self-expression. In this contest they learn tools that will help them throughout their lives, not only personally but also in the business world as they one day begin to interview for jobs.”
Best Actor winner Wesley Whitson said, “You could feel the excited, nervous energy at the competition, which made everything a whole lot more focused and fun.”
“Students at this age are unique,” said Torno. “They are in the process of evolving into the adults they will one day be. The right experience can create a love and appreciation of theatre in their hearts to last a lifetime.”
Other winners include:
All Star Cast: Briarmeadow’s Jack Wolf, Hamilton’s Ryan Garner, Lanier’s Justin Chevalier, The Rice School’s Natalia Silvani, Johnston’s Chandler Dean, Pin Oak’s Annie Matthews, Briarmeadow’s Drake Zierlein, and Briarmeadow’s Aaron Ahmadu.
Honorable Mention All Star Cast: Westbriar’s Nicole Zimmerer, Patrick Henry’s Jessica Campuzano, Patrick Henry’s Anthony Estrada, Briarmeadow’s Kendall Williams, Hamilton’s Penelope Nunnally, Lanier’s Emma Hagemann, Johnston’s Adam Reichstein, and The Rice School’s Emerald Lewis.
Outstanding Technicians: Westbriar’s Kamrin Vaklavic, Patrick Henry’s Jesus Baez, Briarmeadow’s Maziar Zarea, Alexander Hamilton’s Casey Alvarado, Lanier’s Sara Donovan, The Rice School’s Brandon Okezie, Johnston’s Gianna Porter, and Pin Oak’s Jatoriyae Dupree-Jones.
Kendrick Brown, theater teacher at Briarmeadow, the 2nd place finisher, said, “The UIL competition this year was phenomenal. The judges were great, filled with tons of educational information that made the kids eager for next year. One of my students said, ‘I didn’t know theatre was this fun outside of class.’ I want to thank HISD, and most importantly Travis Springfield, HISD’s UIL Academics Director, and all those who participated or helped in some form or fashion. It was truly an experience the students will never forget.”