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Russellville High School seniors participate in performing arts signing day

Russellville High School held a signing ceremony May 11 in the RCS auditorium to celebrate its seniors who will be going to college on performance scholarships. The signing took place on the stage, with a reception following in the lobby.

For the teachers who have guided these students along the way, the day provided a welcome opportunity to highlight their accomplishments. 

“As a teacher, it is always special to see your students recognized for their achievements,” explained RHS band director Jeremy Willis. “They have put countless hours into honing their skills, all while handling the daily rigors of high school life.”

Being able to see them work and grow their skills is something RHS musical theatre teacher Patrice Smith described as a wonderful experience.

“It has been an honor to teach these students over their years at RHS and to see the love they have for their art blossom and grow,” she said. “I feel absolutely overjoyed to now be able to see them taking steps to continue doing what they love.”

Hannah Mills, Anna Skidmore and Madeline Cooper will be Lionettes in the Marching Pride band at the University of North Alabama.

“Never in a million years would I have imagined that my dreams would actually come true,” said Mills, “but here I am, getting ready to dance on a collegiate level at the University of North Alabama. I’m so excited to live out my dreams by performing as a Lionette.”

Cooper expressed gratitude for Russellville athletics, especially cheerleading.

“I am so thankful for being allowed the opportunity to continue performing and dancing,” she said. “I hope to leave a legacy for younger girls coming through the RHS cheerleading program to know that they have so many opportunities available to them and not to limit themselves.”

Nelly Valdez-Ojendiz will be a member of the Marching Pride Color Guard at UNA, and Brock Grissom will be a member of the Marching Pride band.

Luis Lucas and Pedro Lopez will be members of the jazz band at Northwest-Shoals Community College.

Madyn Harris will be a theatre arts major at Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts. She said she hopes to perform professionally as an actor, as well as have opportunities to write and direct shows.

Harris said she loves performing because it is the “one thing that has stuck as ‘my thing’ in life,” after trying almost every sport and extracurricular. It was in the fourth grade when she found her place. “When I auditioned for a show in Winfield, that’s when I found theatre. From then on, I fell completely head-over-heels in love with being on the stage. I find theatre so compelling because it allows me to never stop playing dress-up.”

She said it’s all about having the freedom to be creative while expressing herself.

“Theatre gives me access to pretending to be whatever I want in the most creative way possible. One of my childhood directors, Josh Kauffman, used to tell us how live theatre is the only art form that is never exactly the same, no matter how many times you watch it. That has stuck with me from the moment I first heard it. This phrase explains directly how magical theatre is.”

Addy Fikes and Malorie Pace will be majorettes in Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Show Band from Tigerland.

Pace said it’s a chance she’s grateful to have. “I am so thankful Northeast has chosen me for this exciting opportunity. I can’t wait to perform as a featured twirler.”

Roxanne Bowles, sponsor for the RHS majorettes, Tigerettes and color guard, explained the students’ performances have been exemplary.

“We are so excited for this group of performing arts students,” Bowles said. “All of them have poured their hearts out on stage or on the field during their years at RHS, and they have decided to take their passions and talents to the collegiate level.

“I have no doubt that RHS will be represented well,” she added. “These students have worked so hard for this. They’ve practiced, traveled and auditioned, all while maintaining excellent grades and serving in leadership roles through musical theatre, marching band, auxiliary, cheer and the classroom.

“We could go on and on about each individual student in this group and the many ways they’ve grown as performers. We love them so much and are so very proud.”

Smith added it has been a pleasure to be there for the students on their journey. “We have loved being in their audience and will happily cheer them on every step of the way.”

Willis said it’s always extra special to see students continue pursuing the arts. “It was a privilege to be their audience. We have been, and always will be, their biggest fans.”

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