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UCS theatre students earn top honors, scholarships at thespian festival

ThespiansUtica Community Schools students from all four high schools earned top awards and scholarship offers at the 2022 Michigan Thespian Festival. 

Theatre students from Eisenhower, Henry Ford II, Stevenson and Utica high schools attended the annual festival in Lansing, held December 9 and 10.  Approximately 1300 students from 65 Michigan schools were at the festival.

Students had the opportunity to attend professional workshops, meet with college representatives, view performances and compete in events that were judged by college and industry professionals.

UCS theatre students are under the direction of teachers Eric Wells of Eisenhower High School, Kirstin Carolin of Henry Ford II, Cheryl Jackson of Stevenson High School and Joel Kaczmarczyk of Utica High School.

Eisenhower High School

Thirty seven students from Eisenhower High School's Troupe 3901 attended festival.  The student participated in workshops, saw live stage shows, competed in Thespy Events, and spent the weekend bonding with fellow high school thespians from across the state.

Eisenhower had six students compete in “thespy” events and all attained the score of Excellent:

  • Daniel Perkovic- Monologue Acting
  • Addison Mondoux- Monologue Acting
  • Mackenzie Ludwig- Solo Musical Theatre
  • Kevin Ago- Solo Musical Theatre
  • Riley Quirk- Duet Acting
  • Cady Soules- Duet Acting

Eisenhower also had six seniors participate in college scholarship auditions where they earned a total of $1.7 million dollars in college scholarship offers:

  • Daniel Perkovic- Acting Scholarship  - $351,680
  • Mackenzie Ludwig-Acting Scholarship - $405,280
  • Tyler Girand-Acting Scholarship - $367,280
  • Micheal Renteria-Acting Scholarship - $138,000
  • Evan Shirey- Acting Scholarship - $146,280
  • Alexis Mehalko - Musical Theatre Scholarships - $296,000

Scholarship Total - $1,704,280 

Henry Ford II High School

Seven Henry Ford II students attended the festival. Students participated in workshops ranging from Greek mask-masking to interpreting Shakespeare to using theatre to identify important social issues and advocate for change in their own lives.
The following students earned Excellent recognition in their adjudicated events: 

  • Alban Gjerkaj for Scenic Design
  • Piper Gregory and Ryan Snider for Duet Acting
  • Mikayla Mazza for Solo Musical Theatre

Alban Gjerkaj won the category of “Sound” in the Tech Olympics in a timed competition because he could wire sound faster than any other participants.
Additionally, the technical director of Northern Michigan University Bill Digneit, spent the weekend actively recruiting Adrian and Alban Gjerkaj without them actually applying for scholarships. “The Twins” made such an impression,  they were each offered $4000 to commit to the technical theatre program at Northern Michigan University where they would have the opportunity to work on things like Formula One Racing and the North American International Auto Show as part of their training in technical theatre.
Stevenson High School
Congratulations to Stevenson High School Troupe 33 on their participation in the 2022 Michigan Thespian Festival in Lansing, Michigan.  Students attended workshops, a play called Puffs, the musical Chicago, and watched individual events for their areas of interest.  Special shout out to Mick Jorudd for receiving Excellent Awards in both Monologue and Solo Musical theatre Solo, and to Quinn Zwolinski, who also received an Excellent Award in Solo Musical Theatre Solo. 

Utica High School
Ten Utica High School students went to the festival. The students participated in individual event competitions, watched and supported each other during their performances and also attended theatre workshops in this educational environment. In addition, they had the opportunity to meet with college representatives from Michigan and surrounding states.

In the Individual Events the results were as follows:

  • Junior Nadya DeRosa with an Excellent rating in Solo Dance Performance
  • Senior Madelyn Karrandja with an Excellent rating in Solo Dance Performance
  • Junior Maia Suggs with a Superior in Solo Musical Theatre Performance
  • Senior Savannah Van Pamel with a Superior in Solo Musical Theatre Performance
  • Sophomore Jaelyn Kaczmarczyk with a Superior in Scenic Design
  • Junior Lauren Garwood with a Superior in Sound Design
  • Junior Lily Oddo with a Superior in Stage Management                                                                        

Receiving scholarship offers were as follows:

Douglas Gettleson

  • Heidelberg University School of Music and Theatre
    Academic and Merit Scholarship/Out of State
    20,000/year for 4 years totaling 80,000
  • Rochester University
    Academic Scholarship
    9,500 for 5 years totaling 47,500
  • Hope College
    Distinguished Artist Award-Theatre
    3,000 x 4 years totaling 12,000
  • Aquinas College
    Academic and Theatre Scholarships
    22,000 x 5 years totaling 110,000    
    University of Detroit Mercy
  • Talent Scholarship
    14,000 x 4 years totaling 56,000   
  • Eastern Michigan University                               
    EMU Theatre Excellence Award
    2,000 x 4 years totaling 8,000
  • Wayne State University
    Talent Scholarship
    9,000 x 4 years totaling 36,000
  • Grand Valley State University - 5,000
  • Northern Michigan University - 4,000
  • Northern Michigan University - 10,000
  • Purdue University Fort Wayne - 6,000
    Wittenberg University - 114,000

 Asher Joan Dumoran

  • University of Detroit Mercy
    Talent Scholarship
    14,000 x 4 years totaling 56,000
  • Rochester University
    Academic Scholarship
    10,500 for 5 years totaling 52,500
  • Aquinas College
    Academic and Theatre Scholarships
    26,000 x 5 years totaling 130,000    
  • Northern Michigan University - 6,000

Kadence Huard

  • Northern Michigan University
    Wildcat Merit Scholarship – Academic
    3,000 x 4 years totaling 12,000
  • Rochester University
    Academic Scholarship
    10,000 for 5 years totaling 50,000
  • University of Detroit Mercy
    Talent Scholarship
    14,000 x 4 years totaling 56,000
  • Heidelberg University - 92,000
  • Niagra University - 96,000 with option for 5,000 additional monies

Savannah Van Pamel

  • University of Detroit Mercy
    Talent Scholarship
    14,000 x 4 years totaling 56,000   
  • Rochester University
    Academic Scholarship
  • 9,000 for 5 years totaling 45,000
  • Northern Michigan University - 10,000

Total Scholarship Monies Offered to UHS students: 1,150,000.00