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CCPS students, staff earn awards, honors at Maryland Thespian Festival

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) high school students in school-based theater programs recently took centerstage attending the two-day Maryland Thespian Festival at the University of Maryland, College Park. Held Jan. 12 and 13, the festival experience included more than 300 workshops such as a vocal masterclass, Puppetry 101 and Broadway Bootcamp, a one-act festival and offered scholarships for seniors. 

La Plata High School students who were recognized as All-State Thespians include Katherine Bowling, Emma Carlson, Avery Hancock, Kaleb Hubler, Hailey Leonard, Haili Powell, Kyra Shafer, Viktor Steiger and Lillie Wright. Those who earn the honor must hold a leadership role within their troupe and/or head a committee. Wright was named a Maryland Distinguished Senior Thespian, which acknowledges significant contributions as a senior thespian to their school’s theater department. Wright also was named an Outstanding Actress in La Plata’s one act. Shafer was awarded an International Thespian Excellence Award — also known as a Thespy — for Superior Solo in musical theatre for “Into the Woods.” Zachary Saunders earned an Outstanding Actor in La Plata’s one act. Julia Rivenburg, an English teacher at La Plata, directed the second-place winner in the Maryland Thespian Festival One Act, “The Laramie Project 10 Years Later.” Jennifer Joyner, a theater arts teacher, is La Plata’s sponsor.

Henry E. Lackey High School students Amiyah Marshall and Penny Kriebel each earned an Outstanding Actor Award in a One Act for “DNA.” Jenn Banda Bemis, Lackey’s theater teacher, is the sponsor.

Maurice J. McDonough High School students who earned the All-State Thespian honor were Layla Dodson, Ada Donohue, Reagan Furmanski, Olivia Grier, Amaia Hall, Laila Holloway, Erin Miller, Brett Wood and William Zabriskie. McDonough earned a first-place award for Best Props in a One Act for “Our Place.” Holloway was named a Maryland Distinguished Senior Thespian and is a student state officer; Donohue earned Outstanding Actress in a One Act for “Our Place.” Wood earned Outstanding Actor in a One Act for “Our Place,” a Thespy Superior Solo in musical theatre for “Lost in the Wilderness,” and is a state student officer; Mya Sellers earned a Thespy Superior in Costume Design for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and honors for a Thespy Superior Showcase. Maritessa “Oakley” Fetterman earned a Thespy Superior Solo in Musical Theatre for “The Mad Ones.” Mikayla Nairn earned a Thespy Superior Solo in musical theatre for “Lost in the Brass.” Jana Heyl, McDonough’s theater teacher and sponsor, earned the Gold Status Honor Troupe award.

North Point High School student Jordyn Harmon is a state student officer. Addyson Jordan earned a Thespy Superior in Stage Management for “A Chorus Line,” and a Thespy Superior Showcase. Ren Smith earned a Thespy Superior Solo in musical theatre for “That’s What He Said.” Tessa Silvestro, theater arts teacher at North Point, is the sponsor.

St. Charles High School students earned accolades at the festival. Laila Franklin was named Outstanding Actor for St. Charles’ one act, “Badger.” Taylor Hill earned a nod for Outstanding Sound Design for a One Act for “Badger.” Ricaria Lawson, earned the All-State Thespian designation, an Outstanding Actress nod for St. Charles’ one act, “Badger,” and a Thespy Superior Solo in musical theatre for “Nothing,” from “A Chorus Line.” Kori Sobers received a Thespy Superior Solo in Acting for “Chicken & Biscuits,” and “The Story.” Nia Young was named a Maryland Distinguished Senior Thespian, acknowledging her contributions to the school’s theater department. Hill, Young and Jordan Jones garnered an Outstanding Technical Crew recognition for a One Act for “Badger.” Franklin, Lawson and Young were among the St. Charles students who were honored for “Bend and Snap” from “Legally Blonde the Musical,” with a Thespy Superior Group in musical theatre. Other students in the group number who were honored included Za’Nyah Brown, Dominique Dixon, Cadence Dye, Angela Foster, Ashley Campos Gomez, Jaiden Holly, Zion Kosh, Marcuse Marshall, Daymond Parker, Elias Thompson, Kaelyn Williams and Brenden Wrenn. Tim LaBelle and Ben Simpson, both theater arts teachers at St. Charles, are the sponsors. Simpson was named the Maryland Thespians Teacher of the Year.

Joshua Pelzer and Kaylah Pratt, both students at Westlake High School, earned Outstanding Actor honors in a mainstage show for “A Chorus Line.” The musical was staged this past summer featuring student performers and backstage personnel of the All-County Thespian Troupe. The troupe is comprised of students from different CCPS high schools.

Westlake students earned further accolades at the January festival. Pelzer, a state student officer, was honored for a showcase performance of “Feed Me” from “Little Shop of Horrors,” and received a Thespy Superior for Duet in musical theater for the same song. Pratt was awarded a Thespy Superior for Duet in musical theatre for “Feed Me.” Zion Calloway earned a Thespy Superior for Solo in musical theatre for “What Would I Do if I Could Feel,” from “The Wiz.” Westlake’s sponsors are Jackson Long and Bryan Grosbach, theater arts teachers at the school.

Tim Bodamer, CCPS specialist for fine and performing arts, and Andrew Blumhardt, CCPS instructional specialist for fine and performing arts, were named Maryland Thespians Administrators of the Year. To earn the Maryland Thespians Teacher or Administrator of the Year, staff must ensure students receive the highest quality theater education and have demonstrated a dedication to high school theater programs.

To learn more about the Maryland Thespian Festival, visit

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,765 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 38 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).