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    The Cast of Newsies
    Nicola Davies

    Two of Wilton’s High School stage productions were recognized at the Halo awards on June 3.

    Two of Wilton’s High School stage productions were recognized at the Halo awards this week. The Halo Awards honors high school students’ achievements in all aspects of theatre. Over 60 high schools from across the State of Connecticut participated in the 16th Annual Halo Awards this year!

    The Fall play ‘Witness for the Prosecution’, based on the Agatha Christie play, directed by Kevin Slater, sets by Christian Planton, produced and costumed by Marty Kozlowski. The play won the award for Best Performance by a cast in an Ensemble production. It was also nominated for:

    • Best Costumes -Peyton Matik
    • Best Specialty Ensemble - Nick Furst, Lily Mikita, Andrew Tsantilas, Alex Meyers, Olivia Vitarelli
    • Best Performance by a Couple or Dynamic Duo in a Play Nick Furst, Lily Mikita
    • Best Male Standout in an Ensemble Production - Nick Furst
    • Best Classical Play.
    Nick Furst, Alex Myers, Lily Mikita, Andreas Tsantilas

    The spring musical, directed by Meredith Walker, produced and costumed by Marty Kozlowski, sets by Christian Planton, was nominated for eight Halo Awards and won the prestigious Best Musical award. Other nominations were for:

    • Best Performance by a leading actress in a musical – Sarah Bates
    • Best Performance by a featured actor in a musical - Michael Biondo as Crutche
    • Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical - Jack Parrotta as Jack Kelly
    • Best Performance By a Supporting Actor in a musical – Ryan Lynn as Davey
    • Best Featured Dancers - Jessica Olin, Olivia Vitarelli, Quinn Lupton, Jenna Bonafide, Emma Driver, Abby Seaman, Sasha Sypher & Taylor White.
    • Best Orchestra
    • Best Dancing
    Cast of Newsies

    This is the first year that Wilton High School spring musical has been eligible for consideration in the Halo awards. This is because the musical is performed very late in the school year. This year, the Halo award committee extended the eligibility window to allow Wilton to compete for the awards, which are the High School equivalent of the Tony Awards. Monday, June 3 saw a bus full of excited WHS students attend the event at the Palace Theater in Waterbury.

    The Halo awards are the cherry on the top for producer and artistic director Marty Kozlowski who is retiring from the school district this year after over 23 years of working on productions for the High School. She is so proud of the achievements of the students and will miss her Wilton theater family when she relocates to North Carolina next year.  She strongly believes that there is a place in the theater for all kids who want to participate. Ms. Kozlowski encourages kids to ‘Just give it a try! I’ve seen many shy kids get bitten by the bug and then blossom and become a part of our Theater family’.

    Speaking of the Halo awards, Kozlowski said ‘It was so exciting; it was a huge honor to be recognized in this way. As well as awards, nominees get to perform, we opened the show with a number from Newsies’. On winning two awards, she reported ‘Winning Best Ensemble in a play was a huge win, since it was for the overall production and all the kids involved. Then when the award for Best Musical was announced, the kids were ecstatic, they all flew out of their seats and charged the stage to accept the award.  Best Musical was the grand finale of the evening, we'd been holding our breath all night to see how it would go.’

    Newsies cast member and nominee for Best Performance by a leading actress in a musical – Sarah Bates had this to say about the night ‘The energy on the bus on the way there and especially on the way back was completely electric, everyone felt like celebrities, complete with formal dress. Watching the other groups perform was fantastic because of how supportive everyone was of each other.’ On learning that Newsies had won best Musical, she said ‘People were screaming, laughing and crying. The collective energy was so high that everyone ran up the stairs and onto the stage while still clinging to each other. Right in that moment, we were one family, holding each other up and so loving and supportive of each other’

    No two productions are ever the same and the theater department relies on a dedicated network of parents, students and alumni to put on the shows each year. Newsies needed two dance choreographers and a fight choreographer ‘A lot of times my old students come back and are my loyal helpers, the fight choreographer was a school alumnus’. Ms. Kozlowski feels that the kids really connected with this play and gave it their all, something that fills her with gratitude. ‘They were off the charts with enthusiasm and energy for this production’

    The Theater program was recognized last week by the Wilton Board of Education in their ‘Salute to Excellence’ award. Ms.Kozlowski received a standing ovation from students and board members as she accepted the award on behalf of the department. Superintendent Kevin Smith spoke of the high quality, exemplary programs that the department runs as he thanked her for all the work she has done in support of our students over years.

     

    Dr Smith awards Ms. Kozlowski with Salute to Excellence Award
    Teachers and winners pose with their gold medals
    Nicola Davies

    Two students won gold awards at the national level of the Scholastic art and writing competition.

    Teachers and winners pose with their gold medals

    On Thursday June 6, two Wilton High School students were among 800 teen artists and writers from across the country who were recognized at Carnegie Hall as National Medalists in the 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards-the nation's longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in grades 7-12, presented by the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

    The ceremony was opened by actress and writer Tina Fey who said: "Having the experience and achievement of what you've already done, the great thing is that no matter what you end up doing, you've already accessed the creative part of your life and of yourself. You have all had the experience of making something where there once was nothing, so you know that anything is possible."

    The ceremony also featured awards alumnus and fashion designer Zac Posen, actress Rose Byrne and the Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith. They each presented awards and congratulated students for their accomplishments in the arts.

    Julianna Russo, a senior at Wilton High School, won her award for her ceramic ‘Useless Tea pot’. Her teapot and tea cups were both made on the potter’s wheel.  She threw a large ring without a bottom, cut and formed the shapes.  She left throwing rings in the piece to communicate to the viewer that it was make on the potter’s wheel.  She thought it would be fun to make something that is usually functional into something nonfunctional, making the piece a sculpture, therefor titling the piece "Useless Tea Pot". After graduating WHS, Julianna will continue to develop her skills in ceramics as she works towards a degree in art therapy.

    Ceramic artwork The Useless Tea Pot

    Caroline Luciano is a sophomore at Wilton High School created her photograph in her advanced photography class this fall. Her photograph ‘Ella Rose’ was taken with an Infrared converted camera as well as a regular DSL camera. Speaking on how she composted the picture, Caroline said ‘This photograph was created by combining two images. One image was captured using an infrared photograph taken behind the school and the other image was captured using a DSL Photograph taken of my sister at home, the photograph was then further enhanced with an iridescent silver and pearl paint to increase the surreal quality.

    Photograph titled Ella Rose

     

    Accompanying the students at the award ceremony were two Wilton High School art teachers Suzanne Brandt, who teaches photography and Michelle Currier who teaches ceramics.  “I have never had a student win at nationals before. I am very excited that we won two national awards at Scholastic Art Awards’ said Brandt.

    More than 200 of the winning artworks were showcased at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in the exhibition named Art.Write.Now.2019. Further artworks were displayed at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons School of Design at the New School. After the summer, selected works from the exhibition are going on a nationwide tour to art galleries around the country. Further details on the tour are available here.

    Fine and Performing Arts Celebrated at WHS
    Nicola Davies

    Wednesday night was the annual reception and awards ceremony to celebrate The Arts.

    Each year, Wilton High School recognizes graduating seniors in the art, music and theater departments, presenting awards and scholarships for achievement in each field. This year’s Fine and Performing Arts (FAPA) Awards ceremony took place on May 22, and nearly 50 senior student artists, musicians, and performers were honored.

    The AP art show reception kicked off the evening with a display of the incredible examples of fine art produced by the seniors. These photographs, paintings and sculptures would look at home gracing the walls of any professional gallery.

    This is a moving evening for all involved as the teachers celebrate how far the students have come and what they have achieved. It was clearly evident that the teachers are going to miss this group of seniors that they have watched blossom over their four years in High School. English and theater teacher Heather Delude summed up what many of the teachers felt. In a display of happy emotion, she shared how proud she is that one of her students – Ava Kaplan is following in her footsteps and attending the University of Florida on the same course that she graduated from twenty years ago. The first of her students ever to do so.

    Awards were given to students by teachers and representatives from town organizations including Wilton Children’s Theater, Weir Farm, The Greens at Cannondale and the PTSA.

    The teachers presenting awards all echoed the message that none of this would be possible without the support of our district and administration, and their appreciation for the arts and the role it plays in the lives of our students.

    “Every year lives are changed by this program thanks to them” Said Marty Kozlowski, who produces the stage productions at WHS “We also are blessed with a dream come true in our professional staff –passionate, committed and talented people who are able to create art on our stage’

    ‘It is wonderful to see all these students who chose to make the arts a part of their educational program’ said Nick Loafman, Instructional Leader for Music at the High School,  ‘In a place like Wilton they have so many good choices about how to spend their time, so the fact that they all lived such a devotion to the arts is a great thing. As educators, we are all so happy that parents and families supported these choices, as their support is integral to these experiences as well’

    Each year, one student is awarded the prestigious Fine and Performing Arts Award scholarship, for demonstrating exemplary dedication, leadership and passion for the arts for all four years. In order to win the sought-after FAPA Award, the student must be involved with at least three separate arts departments at WHS. The 2019 Fine and Performing Arts Award was presented to Alex Killian.

    The other students who received awards were:

    FINE ART AWARD WINNERS:

    AP Student Portfolios:

    Phoebe Satterwhite, Zareen Reza, Yashika Nana, Eleanor Imrie, Victoria Andrew, Jayne Guglielmo, Flynn Crowther and Emilia Romo

    Scholastic Art Award Winners:

    Zoey Araquel, Emma Caldwell, Davis Cote, Megan McNamara, Julianna Russo, Maud Seymour, Caroline Luciano, Christopher Shaw and Giana Zaccone

    Stamford Art Association Award:

    Mixed Media - Zareen Reza

    Photography - Theo Laflamme

    Sculpture / Ceramics - Megan McNamara and Zoey Araquel

    The Festival Logo Design: Christopher Shaw

    The Greens at Cannondale / Wilton Meadows Holiday Card Contest : Phoebe Satterwhite

    Ambler Trust Scholarship in honor of Rusty Hurd : Zareen Reza and Elizabeth Yoon
    Friends of Weir Farm Award : Zareen Reza
    Paint Brush Award: Emily Johnson
    Open Art Mural Award:  Elizabeth Yoon, Zareen Reza and Leah Moore
    Richard Brandt Video Award : Alex Killian
    Echelon Awards :   Max Schwartz and Victoria Andrew
    Charles A. Dana Award : Phoebe Satterwhite
    PTSA Book Awards:  Emmanuel Bazile, Yashika Nana, Flynn Crowther  Phoebe Satterwhite and Zareen Reza

    Band Awards

    • Director’s Award for Band: Julianna Fastiggi
    •  Louis Armstrong National Jazz Award: Sean Carlson
    •  John Philip Sousa National Band Award: Adam Harley

    Orchestra Awards

    • Director’s Award for Orchestra: Connor Adams
    • National School Orchestra Award: Mona Sinha

    Choir Awards

    • Director’s Award for Chorus: Jayna Gumins
    • National School Choral Awards: Hannah Mikita and Grant Jones
    • Wilton Singers Scholarships:  Alex Myers and Davis Langhoff

    Theater Awards

    • Wilton Children's Theater : Lily Kepner, Jayna Gumins, Dylan Pojano and Taylor White
    • Golden Curtain Award:  Hannah Mikita
    • Director’s Award:  Alex Myers
    • Producer’s Award:  Dylan Pojano
    • Improve Awards: Ava Kaplan and George Murphy
    • TAPS Awards: Taylor White and Jessica Olin 
    • Little Theater Company Award: Rachel Wilson and Ava Kaplan 
    • Rookie of the Year: Riley Luchetta
    • PTSA Theatre Arts Book Award : Dylan Pojano
    High School Students pose outside of Carnegie Hall
    Nicola Davies

    63 WHS students take to the stage for an unforgettable night.

     

     

    High School Students pose outside of Carnegie Hall

    On Saturday Evening 63 members from the Wilton High School chorus performed on stage at Carnegie Hall. The singers were all members of the Mens, Womens and Madrigal Choirs at Wilton High School. They were invited to perform as part of the New England Symphonic Ensemble. The students joined two other choirs on stage and performed with a professional orchestra.

    ‘Any time singers have the opportunity to collaborate and share in their joy for singing, it's a wonderful thing’ Said Kevin Cotellese, choral director at Wilton High School ‘This was a surprise and an honor to be invited. In Wilton, we strive to create authentic experiences for our students. And, simply put, it doesn't get more authentic than performing Haydn and Mozart at Carnegie Hall’

    The students worked very hard for this experience and for the two days preceding the concert they attended rehearsals in New York with the other choirs and performers they shared the performance with.

    ‘It was a labor of love to prepare for this challenging repertoire’ continued Cotellese, ‘Performing in front of a gracious audience that truly appreciates their work has provided a positive reinforcement that is invaluable, and provides credible evidence of the value we place on music education in this district’

    The Wilton High School music department provides a variety of performance experiences both in the curricular (Clune) performances and those outside of school (Adjudication Festivals, etc.). In all of these venues, they are hearing from people other than their teachers, that their work, and the passion they have for music are valued. ‘It is very rewarding for me to see all their work appreciated’ concluded Cotellese.

    The High School Choir shared the stage with the Vancouver Bach Choir, and the Cal Poly Choir. They performed Mozart’s Missa brevis in C major, K. 220 "Sparrow" and Haydn’s Te Deum for the Empress Maria Therese, Hob.XXIIIc:2


     

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