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RMS drama students excel at festival

Several drama students from Russellville Middle School proved recently that age isn’t a factor when it comes to being talented.
The RMS drama troupe participated in the Alabama State Thespian Festival on Jan. 17-18 at Samford University in Birmingham and the group stood out amongst their older high school peers.
RMS drama instructor Patrice Smith said their group was the only one of middle school age that participated in workshops and individual competitions, and there were four students who received excellent or superior ratings in the categories they participated in, which is a big achievement.
“As always, our students represented our school and community well,” Smith said.
“When I was a theatre student, I always looked forward to the thespian festival and I am so thankful to now have the opportunity to take my own students.
“I see them grow and stretch their talents through seeing other performances, competition, and workshops taught by industry professionals. Our students learned more in one weekend than most learn in an entire school year!”
Smith said the workshops the students attend, which range from dancing to acting to specific stage skills, are beneficial, especially for those students who hope to continue being a part of the thespian community on into high school and later in their future.
“With our students attending this festival as middle schoolers, they will be more experienced when they attend as high school students,” she said.
“They will then have the opportunity to audition for the nation’s leading theatrical universities which could cover their college education and put them in position for a life of performance professionally.”
Jarrod Lasseter, a seventh grader who participated in the festival for the first time this year, said he felt like he got a lot out of the experience.
“One of my favorite things about the weekend was going to the dance workshops with Jacob Jonas,” he said. “I learned a lot of new things and I really enjoyed it.”
Lasseter said he joined the RMS drama troupe initially because of his sister.
“My sister has done drama before and she really loved it so I thought I would give it a try since it’s something I’ve never done before,” he said. “I’ve really liked it so far and I’m glad we had the opportunity to go to the state festival.”
Eighth-grader Alissa Young said she enjoyed the festival because of the positive atmosphere.
“Everyone there was very accepting and friendly,” she said. “We’re all into the same things so that made it easier to connect and get along with the other students there.”
Young said the festival also helped prepare her for her future. She participated in the theater marketing competition, where she placed second in the state, because it hones business skills.
“The theater marketing competition focuses on the publicity side of the business and what it takes to sell the show,” she said.
“I hope to have my own business one day and I’ll have tot know how to market it, so it’s good preparation for the future.”
Smith said a trip like this takes a great deal of commitment from the students, their parents and the school administration.
“I am so thankful for their dedication to these students and our program,” she said. “This is just another reason why our school is so special.”
Students who competed and received honors include: Jarrod Lasseter – excellent rating in Solo Acting; Kourtney Joyner – superior rating in Solo Pantomime and excellent rating in Solo Acting; Jessica Itter- excellent rating in Costume Design; and Alissa Young – superior rating and second in state in Theatre Marketing.
Smith said students who received superior ratings qualified for the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Neb. this summer.