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Road to the spotlight

Six Neshaminy High School graduates were awarded $3,300 in scholarships to study the performing arts

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Growing up, a lot of kids are introduced to the world of performing arts. Whether it’s dance classes or vocal lessons, many stick with it for a few years until they get older and find a different hobby. But for some, it’s more than just a phase — it’s a dream career. Since the industry is highly competitive, Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre’s mission is to help teens get started, and it recently awarded scholarships to six Neshaminy High School students who plan to study the performing arts in the fall.

Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre is a nonprofit scholarship organization that has been offering competitive grants since its founding in 1956 to students graduating from the Neshaminy School District who plan to study the fine and performing arts in college. To date, NVMT has awarded more than $147,000 in scholarships. Funds come from generous donors as well as proceeds from the organization’s annual musical, which was Hello, Dolly! this past year.

For a good cause: Funds from NVMT’s productions, such as “Hello! Dolly” go toward scholarships for local students interested in studying performing arts. PHOTO: Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre

“NVMT’s scholarship grant program has been one of the most positive and rewarding forces behind the success of our theater group for more than a half century,” said president Tom Urquhart. “While we strive for excellence in our stage productions, it is always with the objective of providing funds for our scholarship grants in order to support deserving young people such as these in their quest to achieve their dreams. We’ve been most proud of our recipients and truly happy to have been able to help them.”

At Neshaminy’s class of 2017 senior awards night on June 1, six graduates became one step closer to making their dreams a reality when the scholarships, totaling $3,300, were awarded.

NVMT Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement recipient Jordan Hayes has envisioned a life of dancing and singing since she was a child. When the Langhorne native was in kindergarten, her mom came across a local theater camp and she decided to give it a shot.

A bright future: Langhorne’s Jordan Hayes received the Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement and plans to double major in musical theater and dance at Temple University in the fall. PHOTO: Thomas Urquhart

“I was trying everything as a kid,” she reflected.

The years passed and Hayes kept going back to the camp while adding even more performance-based activities to her agenda, including singing, dancing, acting, vocal lessons and community theater. This continued into high school, where she was the vice president of the drama club.

In the fall, Hayes will become a busy Temple Owl double majoring in musical theater and dance. While some nerves are setting in, she hopes her jam-packed schedule will lead her to her ultimate goal of being a performer.

“I love the feeling I get when I’m on stage,” she said. “It’s where I’m the most comfortable.”

Though Broadway is the dream, Hayes is keeping her career options open. As long as she can land a job that’s performance-related (like performing on a cruise line), she’ll be happy.

Graduate Stephen Hopkins also received an NVMT Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement. He will be majoring in music education and horn performance at Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance, and has plans to obtain a master’s or doctoral degree to prepare him for a music-oriented teaching career.

Daniel Booda received the Dotti Glenberg Memorial Scholarship. Booda plans to study musical theater at Rider University and hopes to one day share his love of theater and dance by opening a dance studio or working as a theater director.

Alaina O’Neill is the recipient of the Evelyn McLean Memorial Scholarship, NVMT’s most prestigious award named for its founder. She will attend West Chester University to major in music education. As a volunteer at various pediatric cancer organizations, she hopes to incorporate her two interests through music therapy at pediatric hospitals.

Rebecca Raffin received the G.W. Kinsley IV Memorial Scholarship for Students of the Woodwind Instruments. A member of her high school’s Wind Ensemble for four years, she will minor in music at The College of New Jersey while working toward a degree in special education.

Chad Wiatrowski served as an officer of Neshaminy’s Drama Club and was chosen for the Joseph J. McGlade Memorial Scholarship. Wiatrowski will study musical theater at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

The application process for 2018 scholarships will open next spring. For more information on Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre and its scholarship program, visit nvmt.org, email nvmt@verizon.net or call 267–733–8876. ••

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