Southwest students recognized with angelic-level awards

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Theatre group teaches students more than speech and drama

Under the direction of Wyatt Hester, the Southwest Little Theatre (SLT), which includes speech and drama students from the Southwest school district, held its 18th annual Angel Awards Ceremony to celebrate its accomplishments over the year.

Current Miss Missouri Jennifer Davis served as host of the awards, which took place on March 24.

Nearly 100 students are active in the theatre group, and during the festivities, nearly all of them performed monologues to this year's theme of The Wind Beneath My Wings. Also included was a special tribute to SLT seniors and recognition of scholarships awarded by the Southwest Little Theatre Scholarship Angel Fund.

Recipients and their respective scholarships received, included:

• The Hutchens Construction Scholarship, Deecan Barnes and Kaitlyn Bernard

• The John & Bobby Jo Dye Scholarship, Brianna Roller and Alissa Walker

• The John & Linda Dye Scholarship, Myka Cook and Allison Serrano

• The LaVer Sexton Scholarship, Blanche Kirk

• The Freedom Bank Scholarship, Josh Clay and Hailey Benninger

Recipients of competitive awards and their respective categories included:

• Advanced Awards, Best Play, cast of "The Empty Chair"

• Best Actor, a tie between Deecan Barnes and Tanner Leonhardt

• Best Actress, Kaitlyn Bernard

• Best Supporting Actor, Deven Maleki

• Best Supporting Actress, Brianna Roller

• Best Cameo Actor, Josh Clay

• Best Cameo Actress, Blanche Kirk

• Technical Excellence, Jared Hamilton

Recipients of Novice Awards included:

• Best Play, cast of "15 Reasons Not to be in a Play"

• Best Actor, Jacob McManus

• Best Actress, Lacey Reeves

• Best Supporting Actor, Charlie Henderson

• Best Supporting Actress, Laney Moore

Recipients of the Junior High Awards included:

• Best Scene, cast of "Operation Break-up"

• Best Actor, Justice Glueckert

• Best Actress, Olivia Ayer

• Best Supporting Actor, Austin Peterson

• Best Supporting Actress, Elizabeth Ross

During the school year, the SLT held six productions,which included the following plays and scenes: 

Junior High Scenes

Another Writer; Singing Harmony; Doctor, Doctor; The Gullible; Summer School; The Echo; Are You Listening, Philodendron?; Escape Artist; Operation Break-Up; Who’s on the Radio; Hop-a-Long Bob; Barbie and Ken Break Up; The Old Folks; I Quit; To Save the World; Close Encounters of the Weird Kind; Babbot and Cabello; The Lie Detective Operator; The Middle School Teacher’s Lounge; Our Own Good, Help Wanted and The Bird

High School plays

Showtime on the Showboat; The Treasure of Huckleberry Ridge; Under the Twelfth Sign; The Empty Chair; The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County; To Destroy You Is No Loss; Thanks Awefully!;15 Reasons Not to be In a Play

During the year, the Speech Department competed in the following tournaments:

• Priscilla Bradford Varsity Speech Invitational at Monett High School

• Winter Classic Speech Tournament at Carthage High School

• Ozark-7 Speech Tournament at Thomas Jefferson Day School in Joplin

The students' participation in all of the activities took on special meaning, with some performing powerful monologues such as stories of attempted suicides.

"Tonight our theme is 'The wind beneath my wings,'" One monologue said. "This makes me wonder, who is always there for me? Who is there for me no matter what my mistakes are? Who is always there to pick me up when I fall? When I think of these things there are a few people who come to mind. But there is one person who stands out. They have been there no matter what. They are always there for me. They lift me up when I’m down. The wind beneath my wings are my parents.

"I am thankful that I have my parents here by my side to help me through this. I know that I will have to deal with depression and anxiety for the rest of my life but I know I have my parents to help me through it.  And I know that I am stronger than depression and anxiety. I want to thank my parents for everything they do and everything they have helped me with. Thank you for staying by my side. Thank you for being there when no one else was there. Tonight I dedicate my year of work at Southwest Little Theatre to both my parents."

Over the course of the year, the students took away practical lessons from their experiences.

“I not only know things that opened my eyes to problems certain classmates face, but I can better understand why each student is the way they are and help them with these problems,” Southwest student Deecan Barnes said.

“Angel awards has made me a more outgoing person and not afraid to stand out in a crowd," Kaitlyn Bernard said. "I appreciate everything I have experienced and learned from Mr. Hester.”  

“Hearing everybody's stories at Angel Awards and even performing my own, reminded me to be more appreciative of all of the people in my life," said Brianna Roller.

Student Josh Clay picked up new technical skills.

"I have learned many things including, but not limited to, how to make a line funny, or how to make it dramatic, how to make a scene more memorable, and how to make myself a better actor," he said.

For student Blanche Kirk, work ethic and character-building were the key takeaways.

“I've had theater with Mr. Hester since seventh grade, and I've learned so much from his class throughout the years, leading up to my final Angel Awards," she said. "I've learned hard work, team work, patience, and control from the days spent working on the awards. I know that I will carry these lessons with me throughout my life and I will remember all the other life lessons and theater lessons Mr. Hester has taught us. He is a great teacher and has taught my classmates and I so much and it is thanks to him that I have come this far.”

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