School district recognizes HVCHS students for their arts achievements

HVCHS junior Sofia Venezia's created art (center) for the annual NAHS Juried Exhibition.

Hopewell Valley Central High School (HVCHS) students in the performing and visual arts have earned winning and finalist achievements as thespians, musicians and artists.

The Hopewell Valley Regional School District announced the high schoolers’ achievements on Jan. 25.

To begin, HVCHS students of the Thespian troupe 7964 competed in the virtual New Jersey Thespians Virtual Festival 2021 the weekend of Jan. 24.

“Things may have looked very different this year, but our troupe members still performed splendidly throughout the entire weekend,” said Ron Heller, supervisor of Visual and Performing Arts for Hopewell Valley Schools. “Troupe member Sophia Parsons was selected for the Best of the Festival showcase for her contrasting monologues, and eight of our members participated in the first ever All State Musical, Songs for a New World, directed by HVCHS Theater teacher Katie Rochon.”

According to the district, the individual events became known as the Thespys, and the following students received superior ratings in their events, allowing them to now compete at the Virtual International Thespian Festival in June: Alayna Domboski, Jack Creegan, Molly Higgins, Payton Tharp, David LaRaus, Elliot Block, Caleb Briggs, Sophia Parsons and Olivia Levin.

“Elliot Block also was a winner for his essay in the Thespian Democracy Works category, and will get to attend a national event in Washington, D.C., for arts advocacy. Congratulations to all of the members of Troupe 7964,” Heller said.

In addition to Troupe 7964, HVCHS student Barron Brothers was selected as a finalist in the NJ Music Educators Association Young Composers Competition Contest. All works submitted in the competition must be 100% original.

“Barron’s original composition titled ‘Tribute to the Trail of Tears’ for choral ensemble was selected for inclusion in the NJ-YCC Finals, to be held virtually via Zoom on Jan. 30, and will feature clinician Patrick Burns from Montclair State University,” Heller said. “Being selected to the finals is an honor, where his composition will compete to win the vocal division.”

Brothers said he wrote this piece in memoriam of a tragic event in history, the Trail of Tears, which was important to him because he has Choctaw ancestors in his family.

“I used a theme-and-variations composition style, with the original melody as a soprano solo at the beginning of the piece. This then develops into a more complex melody with more intricate harmonies as the piece progresses,” he said. “The constant movement in the more developed melody represents the constant walking that the Native Americans had to endure. Also, the different harmonies represent the diversity of all of the Native Americans that were affected by the Trail of Tears, so these harmonies should be brought out, especially as they get more complex.”

He continued by stating that additionally, the lyrics of the piece are from a traditional Choctaw prayer, which represents them praying for something to alleviate their suffering, and the shouting represents their anger at their misery.

“Ultimately, this piece aims to view the tragedy not from a Western perspective, but from the Native Americans’ own eyes, and the choristers should keep this in mind when performing the piece,” Brothers said.

Pivoting to artists, HVCHS National Art Honor Society juniors Brianna Fish and Sofia Venezia had their work selected from more than 1,100 submissions nationwide for inclusion in the sixth annual NAHS Juried Exhibition. The exhibition is an annual art showcase artwork from student artists.

“Normally, the show would be in person at the National Art Education Association Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, but this year’s show is on virtual display through April 20,” Heller said.

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