Henry Ford II High School theater students represent their school at the Michigan Thespian Festival in Grand Rapids.

Henry Ford II High School theater students represent their school at the Michigan Thespian Festival in Grand Rapids.

Photo provided by Utica Community Schools

Theater students’ efforts applauded at festival

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 1, 2018

Local acting students could take a bow after making a strong showing at a recent statewide thespian festival, according to Utica Community Schools officials.

According to UCS spokesman Tim McAvoy, students from the district’s four main high schools — Stevenson, Henry Ford II, Utica and Eisenhower — went to the Michigan Thespian Festival, which ran Dec. 15-16 in Grand Rapids. UCS students accounted for over 120 of the estimated 1,400 students from around the state who were there.

McAvoy said the UCS students competed and received dozens of awards, ranked either Superior or Excellent, and Ford senior Cassidy Andrusz received a top 10 State Thespian recognition.

When the students weren’t performing, they sat in on workshops, watched their peers onstage, and networked with people in the industry and college representatives. According to McAvoy, more than $500,000 in college financial aid was offered to UCS students through the event.

Stevenson High School Theater Director Mark Johnson said he is proud of what his students did at the thespian festival.

“We talk a lot about representing our school and our program, so they did that well, both in terms of how they did in their events, but also how they did in their participation in the festival and their behavior, and in making friends with kids from all across the state.”

At the festival, the students performed material from professional plays or musicals individually or in small groups, Johnson said.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to be able to perform outside of their own building, and it’s also very important because they get to go to workshops, and they get to see the type of things that other schools are doing,” he explained. “If you don’t take your kids on these types of field trips, they never have those types of opportunities.”

In a statement, UCS Superintendent Christine Johns expressed her pride in the school district’s programs for letting students demonstrate their talent.

“The success of our UCS theater students at the Michigan Thespian Festival demonstrates that they perform at levels that match any professionally staged program,” she said.

For more information about Utica Community Schools, visit www.uticak12.org or call (586) 797-1000.