By: Jen Russon
Student actors at the Coral Springs Charter School picked up a multitude of acting awards at the Florida State Thespian Festival, which draws up to 8,000 students a year from districts throughout the Sunshine State.
Troupes 88575 and 6515, led by drama teachers Alaina Butler and Joey Melendez, participated in the event’s first virtual festival, winning awards during the three-day competition over Spring Break.
Depending on which district they are in, students and teachers compete on stages located throughout Florida. The March festival was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic but resumed this year as it normally would — albeit, virtually.
Butler’s students brought home eight Superiors and 4 Excellents. Young thespians from her group and Melendez’s competed in small acting ensembles, duet acting, monologues, and small group musicals.
Technical events are also part of the festival and include scenic design, publicity design, costume design, and playwriting.
Melendez’s troupe of sixth and eighth-graders stole the show, earning seven Excellents, five Superiors, and Top Honors for junior Panther Thespians, Suri Azan-Pinchinat and Sabrina Gonzalez.
Coral Springs Charter Florida State Thespian Festival winners, Grades 6- 8.
Natalia Conte – Solo Musical
Saniyah Orozco – Solo Musical
Nia Perez – Monologue
Anthony Russo, Daria Starikova – Duet Acting
Isabella Matos, Peyton Moser – Duet Acting
Karisma Wright, Saniyah Orozco – Duet Acting
Hayley Black, Nicole Claros, Trinity Dorvil – Small Acting Ensemble
Karisma Wright – Monologue
Suri Azan-Pinchinat – Monologue (TOP HONORS AWARD)
Sabrina Gonzalez – Monologue (TOP HONORS AWARD!)
Carson Dudich, Renae Civettini – Duet Acting
Ava Taglienti , Karisma Wright, Natalia Gallo , Natalia Conte, Renae Civettini, Trinity Dorvil – Small Group Musical
“Watching them work together at the workshops, rehearsing and performing, it was easy to see that even though we were online and not in-person, they were still having so much fun,” said Melendez.
A graduate of CSCS himself, the 29-year-old teacher fondly remembers competing in the festival, as well as being one of Alaina Butler’s students.
“This festival was a big tradition then, and still is. Even if we couldn’t be in Orlando those few days, my students made the best of it,” said Melendez.
For Butler, this year’s thespian festival was not without the usual accolades.
“We actually picked up a third top honors that was posted to the festival database late,” said Butler of her older students.
She added junior thespians at Coral Springs Charter School did great as well, and that the two festivals running concurrently this year, are a chance to highlight the achievements of both hers and Melendez’s group.
“We are more than just friends when we perform at our festival. We become a family, too,” said Melendez.
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- Jen Russon has been a staff writer for Talk Media since 2018. She is also a novelist, copywriter and editor at Swallow Publishing, LLC.
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