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RHS theatre students receive recognition for excellence in competition

Russellville High School theatre students and their sponsor, director and teacher Patrice Smith received special recognition during the Feb. 24 Russellville City Schools Board of Education meeting for their performances at thespian festivals in December 2021 and February 2022.

“It’s always exciting to see a group of our students here for honors and recognitions for all the great things they’ve done,” said RCS Superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes. “Their accomplishments say a lot for their dedication, hard work and performing talents.

“We congratulate them, along with Mrs. Smith, for their excellent performances. Their hard work continues to pay off.”

Smith noted the festivals are highly competitive and commended the students on their accomplishments.

“I am so proud of them and of their families for supporting them. These students are not only excellent drama students, but they are also excellent athletes and excellent students in other areas,” Smith said. “They are leaders in our school system.”

“For some of them,” she added, “it was their first time to compete at state, so that’s really impressive. They all bring a lot of honor to themselves, their families and their school.”

Students attended the Walter F. Trumbauer State Festival Dec. 5-6, which is sponsored by the Alabama Conference of Theatre, at Troy University, and a number of students received “superior” ratings.

In dramatic musical theatre, Nicholas McSpadden and Victoria McGinnis placed second for their duet.

“I originally competed for fun and quickly realized we could actually have a shot at winning,” explained McSpadden. “The entire experience was a lot of fun, and the support from my peers was unmatched. My favorite part was getting to perform in new places. They were all well-kept and organized. It kind of made me feel like a professional, and that was a nice feeling.”

Ella Green also performed in this category.

“I enjoyed my experience at Trumbauer,” said Green. “It was something new for me to try, and I’m glad I went.”

In dramatic contemporary acting, Hannah Mills placed third.

Dalton Stults performed in classical dramatic acting.

In comedic musical theatre, Morgan Jenkins, Madyn Harris, Grace McDermitt and Madeline Cooper performed.

Students also attended the Alabama State Thespian Festival, which is sponsored by the International Thespian Society, at Vestavia Hills High School Feb. 18-19.

The following students received “superior” ratings.

In solo musical theatre, Harris, Jenkins and McGinnis performed.

Harris also performed in showcase selection, as well as a musical theatre duet with Jenkins.

Maddy Green performed in solo acting. “This was a wonderful experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me to take pride in my skills.”

All thespian “superiors” qualify to go to the International Thespian Festival at Indiana University June 20-24.

Harris, Maddy Green, Mills and McDermitt received scholarship interview call-backs. They all qualified for the conference scholarship callbacks and college callbacks.

“I think my favorite part was interacting with so many talented people on a personal level,” explained McDermitt, “like the little moments of talking in the halls and taking classes together.”

Smith said the students take it upon themselves to compete, as it’s not a requirement.

“Those who choose to compete are taking their dedication and performance to the next level. They are all involved in activities outside of theatre,” she said. “While the students and I work together on selecting the material they take, such as songs and monologues, most of their rehearsing is done on their own.

“It takes a lot of extra energy and dedication, and I’m so pleased they chose to seek out these opportunities.”