Neshaminy Valley Music Theatre awarded scholarship grants totaling $4,000 to two recent graduates of Neshaminy High School who are planning to study the arts in college this fall. The recipients from the class of 2022 are Laura Aquilone, of Langhorne, and Rachel Mark, of Feasterville.
Aquilone received support from NVMT through the Evelyn McLean Memorial Scholarship Fund, named after the founder of the music theater. Her passion and career goals lie in the field of animation. She has been creating and writing songs from a young age. In the fall, she’ll attend The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, which has one of the top animation degree programs in the country. In addition to writing original stories and designing characters for animation, Aquilone also composes and plays original music for her projects. She graduated in the top one-fifth of her class and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Mark received support from NVMT through the George W. Kinsley IV Memorial Scholarship for Students of the Woodwind Instruments. She is attending Millersville University to major in special education with a minor in music. Her career goal is to teach students with autism and to utilize music to help her students reach their full potential. Starting in middle school, Mark studied both dance and several musical instruments. Now an accomplished performer on the clarinet, tenor saxophone and tuba, she has been involved with the Neshaminy High School marching band, wind ensemble and choir, and has performed in two of the school’s musical productions. At Millersville, she has already signed up for the university’s marching band and intends to audition for the school’s concert band, concert choir and musical productions. She hopes to return to the area after graduating from Millersville to teach in the Neshaminy or Bensalem school districts.
NVMT is a nonprofit scholarship organization offering competitive grants since its founding in 1956 to students graduating from the Neshaminy School District and planning to study the fine or performing arts in college. The organization mounts an annual musical, the proceeds from which go into a scholarship fund. Generous donors have also contributed to build the fund. To date, NVMT has awarded more than $165,000 in scholarships to nearly 200 students.
The organization’s 2022 production of Annie was presented in April at Neshaminy High School’s auditorium. The show featured a cast and crew of more than 30 community members (all volunteers) from throughout the Delaware Valley and was directed by Barrymore Award-nominated director/choreographer Stephen Casey. Originally set to be presented in April 2020, the show was put on hold for a full two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the show — and its anticipated proceeds that would add to the scholarship fund — was postponed, the NVMT board of directors continued to award scholarship grants to graduating students in both 2020 and 2021 in support of the next generation of artists.
“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 Tom Urquhart, NVMT president. “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.”
The scholarships were announced at Neshaminy’s class of 2022 senior awards night, held on May 26. The application process for 2023 will be available next spring.
NVMT’s 2023 production is The Addams Family. Auditions will be held this fall.