NRHS takes top honors

Published 8:57 pm Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nansemond River High School got a big share of the spotlight recently during the Virginia Theatre Association Competition and Conference.

Performances by several of the school’s performing arts students and performance group, as well as their director and teacher, won the school and participants awards during the Oct. 29-Nov. 1 event in Reston.

Several Nansemond River students were honored with individual state awards. Nansemond River took all three places in theatre mask-making and in playwriting (for the second year in a row). Those winners were:

4Theatre mask making: Jessica Pyne, first place; Katie Taylor, second place; and Katie Celeste, third place

4Playwriting: Grace Currier and Bekah O’Neill, first place; Corey Riley, second place; and Katie Taylor, Jessica Pyne and Noel Hickman, third place.

Nansemond River also won first place in student scenic design, with Bekah O’Neill taking the top spot. Additionally, Katie Celeste received a Student Leadership Award. Katie also served on the VTA Student Board, and for 2009-2010, junior Emilyne Hubbard was named to the same board.

Four Nansemond River students were honored with state acting awards. They were Kenneth Finke, Katie Taylor and CheRae Chaney, who were all named All-State Actors. Receiving Best Actor for Virginia was Grace Currier.

The school’s production of the play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” received the Judge’s Award for Outstanding Ensemble and a Judge’s Award for Outstanding Creative Vision for director Joleen Neighbours.

The production received honorable mention in the finals, and was ranked fifth in the state. The production also received the VTA Costume Design Merit Award, with teacher Jennifer Lynn as the costume designer, and the production received the VTA Technical Merit Award, with director Joleen Neighbours as the technical and production director.

Additionally, Nansemond River had six seniors auditioning for collegiate and university performing arts programs. NRHS students received more than forty callbacks to some of the most prestigious theatre programs on the east coast, besting the percentage of callbacks by previous years’ competing groups.

With a growing performing arts program, Nansemond River High School is becoming well known for its fine arts programs, along with the school’s other academic areas.

Performing Arts director Joleen Neighbours leads the students as they compete at state and locally, and as they perform in numerous theatrical and vocal events throughout the year.