Ryan McCartan, who is currently making magic with "The Phantom of the Opera" at Minnetonka High School, has been named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He is one of 20 high school students nationally to receive the award, and one of only two winners in theater.

Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, made the announcement Tuesday. It is the the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an artistically talented graduating senior. Selection is based on academic, civic and artistic achievement.

McCartan has been selected for the Guthrie/University of Minnesota BFA program beginning next fall. He has worked extensively in Twin Cities. At the Guthrie, he has performed in "The Master Butchers Singing Club," "Little House on the Prairie" and "Lost in Yonkers." He did "Suessical" at Children’s Theatre Company and several productions at History Theatre including "Fireball" and "The Christmas Schooner."

Ken Washington, who directs the Guthrie’s BFA program called McCartan "enormously gifted and talented."

"We feel very lucky and fortunate to have him come into the BFA program," Washington said.

McCartan lives in Excelsior and has been a mainstay for several years at Minnetonka — both in school and community productions.

Kent Knutson, the artistic director for Minnetonka theaters, said McCartan "is one of those rare performers who can light up the entire stage with a smile and break your heart with a tear."

The presidential scholars will perform and exhibit in a ceremony June 19-20 in Washington, D.C.


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