Archive for the ‘School’ Category

Accolades For Erin

May 31, 2013

May has been an incredible month for Erin… and I am so proud of her.

To begin with, back in March, Erin participated in the Regional Event for the National History Day Contest and was the only person from her Middle School to qualify for the State Event this May. On May 4th, she competed at the State Event and although she didn’t qualify for the National Event, she did win the Junior Division Women in History Award with her individual performance entitled Elizabeth Blackwell: A Woman Doctor?

Later on in the month, Erin was notified that she was selected as one of the four speakers at her Middle School Completion Ceremony in June. The teachers from each of the four houses in the eighth grade select a student to represent their house and Erin is her house representative.

That brings us to this week. Earlier this week, Erin received a letter indicating that she was selected to receive a Hamilton Education Foundation For Youth (HEFFY) award at a ceremony next week. You may recall that A.J. also received a HEFFY back in 2008. They are given to Hamilton School District students “in recognition of exceptional talents and skills in leadership, creativity, arts, communications, and human relations.”

And then to top it all off, last night Erin received another letter informing her that she had been selected as a member of the WSMA Middle Level State Honors Band. 1,300 students auditioned back in April and only 98 were chosen. Erin and her band-mates will perform in a concert in Madison in October.

Congratulations Erin on all of your amazing accomplishments. You are indeed a special young lady.

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Little Shop Of Horrors

February 17, 2011

On Saturday night, the whole family went to see Little Shop Of Horrors at Hamilton High School in Sussex. And I would have to say that it was the best high school production that we have seen in a number of years.

Over the last couple of years, we have attended a handful of musicals and plays presented by the Hamilton Drama Dept. and, for the most part, they have been about what you would expect from a bunch of high school students; not spectacular but not terribly awful either. Many times, the issues have been more with the facility than anything else. The Hamilton Fine Arts Center is this cavernous, 750 seat theatre with acoustics that are not as great as they should be. On top of that the principal actors are usually mic’ed and the microphones don’t always come on before the actor starts speaking.

In contrast to our previous experiences, Little Shop Of Horrors was an amazing show. The actress that played Audrey and the actor that played Seymour were absolutely perfect for their roles. The girl playing Audrey looked and acted almost identically to actress that played her in the movie, right down to the squeaks in her voice. I normally don’t like to compare live theatre with movies but because Ellen Greene played that role in the movie and on Broadway, it is still a fair comparison.

All of the students involved in the show did an outstanding job. The dancing and singing were excellent by the soloists as well as the ensemble. The set was excellent, functional, and completely fit on this extremely large stage. Even the pit orchestra did a fabulous job.

My only criticism of the entire show would be around the placement of the Audrey II plant on the stage in the later parts of the show. We were sitting in the house right balcony and the plant was placed upstage left. From our angle in the house, it was mostly blocked by a downstage brick wall representing skid row. I’m sure the reason for the placement of Audrey II had something to do with providing an egress route for the actors eaten by the plant. If this is the reason, then the upstage wall should have been moved to allow a clear view from the entire house.

All and all, it was a wonderful show. The cast and crew should be commended for a great production.

My Family

January 28, 2011

Okay… as I was writing this, realized that it sounds a lot like one of those braggy Christmas letters that you get from some acquaintance that you seldom write to. I almost deleted it because I don’t want to be THAT GUY. But then I realized how strongly I feel about the three people mentioned below and I decided to post it anyway.

I have one really fantastic family… I’m just sayin’. And I am really proud of them all. The first half of the school year is over and both A.J. and Erin have come home with absolutely phenomenal grades. On top of that, they are both doing amazing things in their respective school bands; A.J. with the Trumpet and Erin on the Baritone. And they have each joined their school Forensics teams and are ready to do well there. Not to mention theatre pursuits for A.J. and dance and choir for Erin. They are really talented and I am really blessed.

None of those things would be remotely possible if it weren’t for one truly amazing woman. I am so lucky that she consented to marry me more than 21 years ago. Why she puts up with all my shenanigans, I’ll never know. Over the past couple of years, Kristi held down no less than four part-time jobs at four different hospitals, all the while carting kids to activities, helping with homework, cooking, cleaning, and myriad of other things. Without her, this family would be sunk.

I don’t know what I’ve done to be blessed with such a wonderful family but glad to have them because they are truly my best friends.

ACT Summer Showcase 2010

August 3, 2010

Erin participated in the ACT Summer Camp at Waukesha Civic Theatre during the last two weeks of July. ACT (Academy at Civic Theatre) is the arts education program associated the theatre. In the summer, they offer a summer camp that provides classes in acting, dance, musicals, and improv. On Saturday, they presented the ACT Summer Showcase, a variety show composed of short numbers by each of the classes demonstrating what they had learned over the previous two weeks.

This was Erin’s fourth consecutive year in the program and she participated in the musicals and improv classes this year. The musical numbers that her class performed were outstanding but I have to say that I was most proud of her performance in the improv piece. In acting, singing, and dancing, a great of deal your performance depends on your memorization skills. But when doing improv, you really have to be able to think on your feet… and be funny… in front of hundreds of people that you don’t know. I think that is one of the scariest things you can do. And Erin did it well in two separate performances on Saturday. Nice job, Erin.

I have seen the ACT Summer Showcase for four years now and I have to say that each year it gets better and better. This year was the best one yet. Congrats to Doug Jarecki and the rest of the instructors on a job well done; and congratulations to all of the students for really putting it out there. You were fabulous!!!

tHe eNchAnteD ArcAdia

July 21, 2010

Tonight, the whole Dramagoon clan went down to the Skylight Opera Theatre to see tHe eNchAnteD ArcAdia performed by the students in the Skylight Summer Musical Project. We agreed that we all thought it was outstanding. The show is a loosely-based musical retelling of The Tempest with bits from Cyrano de Bergerac and The Taming of the Shrew and appearances by the cast from Gilligan’s Island. Add to that pop music, several dance numbers (one tap number), and numerous obscure references and lame jokes. The mixture turned out to be simply hilarious.

Ray Jivoff, director, and Tony Clements, music director, are to be complimented for putting together a fantastic program. The student actors and actresses were amazing. We decided to see the show because two of the students in the program, Allie Babich and Drew Oppmann, are individuals that one or more of us has acted with on stage in the past. Both of them did a fantastic job as did the entire cast. I am always amazed at what talented kids can do in such a short amount of time.

Much Ado About Nothing

July 20, 2010

On Saturday night, A.J. and I went to down to MYAC to see the First Stage Theater Academy’s Classical Company Class perform the Shakespeare comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. This is the second year in a row that we have attended the summer Classical Company Class presentation and we enjoyed this one as much as the first, if not more. These talented high-schoolers put together an amazing rendition of this classic show in only four weeks. Actually, they learned about the play and determined roles during the first week, had two full weeks of rehearsal, and teched the show during the final week. That would be challenging for a normal show but when you pile on the language of Shakespeare, it makes it an awesome undertaking.

Every single one of the actors did a fantastic job. I was extremely impressed by the performances of Teddy Warren as Benedick, Jordan Horne as Claudio, Eric Schabla as Dogberry, and the young women that played Beatrice (who’s name I can’t recall). Their stage presence is wonderful and they made Shakespeare come alive. The feeling and emotion that they all put into their characters was inspiring. Congratulations to Todd Denning, the Director, and Grace DeWolff, the Asst Director, for putting together an enjoyable show. As always, kudos to John Maclay and Jeff Frank for creating a great program that allows these young people to excel.

“Be vigitant, I beseech you.”

Happy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

The Dramagoons would like to wish all of our friends and family a Happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for many things in our lives. We have wonderful hobbies like theatre, dance, choir, and letterboxing. We are thankful for excellent schools with great academic environments and superb instrumental band programs. We appreciate our friends and family for all of the wonderful things that they do for and with us. We are thankful to have been part of our new church family for an entire year now. And, as weird as this sounds, we are thankful for our jobs so that we can afford to participate in the other things for which we are thankful.

We sincerely hope that the list of things for which you are thankful is as full as ours.

Oh… and enjoy the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie today. It’s a tradition and you can’t go against tradition.

First Stage Classical Company Class

August 8, 2009

Last night, A.J. and I went down to the MYAC to see a performance by the First Stage Theater Academy’s Classical Company Class called A Great Reckoning in a Small Room. Wow! What an incredible night of classical theatre. The twenty seven high school aged performers were amazing. The directors, Jim Tasse and Brian Gill, discussed how the class last year focused just on the works of Shakespeare. This year, they expanded the study to include works from many of the Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights. They humorously referred to this as a “Jacobethan” work. The performance was about an hour and a half long and contained 31 small scenes from playwrights like William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe and others.

In a previous post, I had indicated that I was amazed by the performance of another one of the academy’s company class. I actually think that this class was even better. It took a few minutes to adjust our brains to understand the Elizabethan style of speech. The actors and actresses were all dressed in black and barefoot and used props when only necessary. Their depth of emotion and understanding of the dialogue was amazing. I was also impressed by how they controlled their bodies while on stage as well as entering and leaving each scene.

I’ve said this before but it bears mentioning again. Although his modesty prevents him from acknowledging this, John Maclay is to be commended for his stewardship of this fantastic theatre arts training program. He and his staff have put together an excellent program that really helps the kids to shine. Keep up the great work.

NUMATS Award Ceremony

June 12, 2009

Last Saturday, Kristi and A.J. drove down to Evanston, IL to attend the NUMATS award ceremony at Northwestern University. As you may recall, A.J. received an award last month for being among the top 5% of all the Wisconsin 7th graders that took the ACT this year. The ceremony on Saturday was at the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University. It was to honor those that scored in the top 1% to 2% of test takers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

A.J. received another medal and certificate plus he was mentioned in the first sentence in an article in the Sussex Sun. That boy sure does have a bunch of “smarticles”. I wish some would rub off on me. We are really, really proud of you, A.J. Keep it up!

WCATY

May 12, 2009

On Saturday, we traveled to Madison to attend the WCATY (pronounced “wickety”) award ceremony. For the past few years, A.J. has been identified as being academically talented (unlike his father). That means that in school he gets to take advanced math and advanced literacy classes. I’m sure he doesn’t see getting harder homework assignments as a benefit. Additionally, he has been invited to take some of the standardized tests early. In 5th and 6th grade, he took the EXPLORE test (A college readiness test for 8th and 9th graders) and this year he took the ACT for the first time. This testing is part of NUMATS (the Northwestern University Midwest Academic Talent Search). This is a program from the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University that identifies talented students and creates activities to keep them challenged.

A.J. scored in the top 5% of all the Wisconsin 7th graders that took the ACT this year. In recognition of that accomplishment, WCATY (the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth) invited him to the above mentioned award ceremony. WCATY is similar to the Center for Talent Development, but is based in Wisconsin. At the ceremony, A.J. and about 150 other 4th through 8th grade students from Wisconsin were recognized and received medals and certificates for their achievement. Way to go, A.J.!!! Keep up the great work!