Seven area high schools have been recognized by the Hennepin Theatre Trust for the quality of their fall musical theater productions.
The honors were announced this month as part of a yearlong program culminating in a two-night showcase at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis on June 14-15.
The Washington County area schools are among 77 high schools across the state participating in the trust’s SpotLight Musical Theatre Program, which now is in its 10th year and gives students a chance to work with local and national theater professionals in activities that include master classes and on-site school workshops.
Some schools, such as Park High in Cottage Grove, present their musicals in the spring, and will have their work assessed then.
During the fall, 42 productions were rated by a group of evaluators, who nominate both individual performers and productions as a whole for honors. Musicals are judged without comparing or ranking them against each other.
Four area schools — East Ridge in Woodbury, North High in North St. Paul, Tartan in Oakdale and White Bear Lake Area High — were recognized as outstanding in both the overall production and overall performance categories, and saw individual performers rated as outstanding, as well.
East Ridge staged “Into the Woods,” and had four students — Brendan Finn, Anna Reimann, Quintin Walker and Samantha Wynn — recognized for outstanding performance in a leading role. Two other students, Erin Foy and Garrett Hildebrandt, were honored for outstanding performance in a supporting role.
North High presented “Grease,” and saw two students — Jonah Hale and Shannon Lee — honored for outstanding performance in a leading role and two others — Josh Hurley and Isabel Dickey — recognized for outstanding performance in a supporting role.
Tartan High staged “The Wizard of Oz,” and had two students — Taylor Hafner and Keegan Gore — recognized for outstanding performance in a leading role and two others — Haley Methner and Ana Ellis — honored for outstanding performance in a supporting role.
White Bear Lake Area High presented “The Addams Family,” and saw two students — Tommy Self and Maddy McLevish-Hughes — honored for outstanding performance in a leading role and two others — Julito Cabrera and Noelle Rivard — recognized for outstanding performance in a supporting role.
Other area schools that won honorable mentions for the quality of their musicals were Forest Lake Area High for “Anything Goes,” New Life Academy in Woodbury for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and Woodbury High for “Curtains.”
Tickets for the June 14-15 showcase are expected to go on sale Feb. 20.
Parents to learn about ‘close reading’
A new way to read will be the focus of Parent University sessions being hosted this week by Keith Jacobus, superintendent of the South Washington County schools.
The sessions are being held in preparation for a Close Reading Week to be observed across the district from Feb. 2-6.
Teachers have been trained in the instructional technique, which involves reading a complex, grade-level text multiple times for different purposes.
Jacobus, who has hosted previous conversations about school finance and adolescent brain development, will try to help parents understand “what ‘close reading’ is, how it works in the classroom and (the) strategies families can use to help students read at home,” a district news release said.
Parents can attend one of three sessions: Tuesday, Jan. 27, from 6:30-8 p.m. at Grey Cloud Elementary in Cottage Grove, and Thursday, Jan. 29, from 9:30-11 a.m. at the District Service Center in Cottage Grove or later that day from 6:30-8 p.m. at Red Rock Elementary in Woodbury.
More information about close reading is available on the district’s website at www.sowashco.k12.mn.us.