Onamia High School held its annual Performing Arts Banquet at Holy Cross Center on April 27. Students who participated in the school musical, speech, band and choir were invited to attend and receive accolades for their successful performances throughout the year.

The event started with a special presentation of the Mary Catherine Hook-Virnig Courage In Adversity Scholarship – scholarships donated by Drs. Arden Virnig and Patti Hook-Virnig in honor of their late daughter, Mary Catherine, who was an honor student and gifted athlete at OHS. This year, the Virnigs honored Wyatt Shippee, Megan Saboo, and Shan Donovan with this scholarship (along with bags of Skittles, a traditional gift Mary would give out at Onamia track meets).

The award program then moved on to theater and speech.

Musical theater director Nancy Hendry awarded the musical cast of “Once Upon a Mattress” certificates and letters for their fine performances.

Sarah Lancaster gave her traditional candy bar awards to her junior high speech team and Alicia Laughery presented letters and awards for the varsity speech team.

The speech season was highlighted by three students – Rachel Praught, Ember Brandon and David Jacobson – qualifying for the state tournament.

Lauren Smart won the “Rising Star” award while Ember Brandon and David Jacobson earned the “Speech Mentor” awards.

Elizabeth Dickson was honored as the speech captain, and David Jacobson won the “Most Valuable Speaker” award.

This year there were five seniors in the running for the coveted John Philip Sousa award. OHS Band director Jennifer VanReese spoke of the difficulty she faced in making her choice because of the hard work and dedication her senior band leaders showed this school year. In the end, the winner of the John Philip Sousa award was Shan Donovan.

Elizabeth Budahn, first year choir teacher Onamia schools, presented the choral awards. She also spoke of the difficulty of making the final choice for the annual National Choral Award that finally went to Max VanAlst.

The final awards were given to the outstanding male and female performing artists of the year. Activities Director for Onamia Schools Jason Leonard was on hand to present The Fine Arts Students of the Year awards to seniors Shan Donovan and Elizabeth Dickson.

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