For our first public, in-person event in over a year, Starlight hosted the 19th Annual Blue Star Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 20th - and what a comeback it was! During the free event, which was made possible through the generous support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and CommunityAmerica Credit Union, the creativity, dedication, and resilience of students from 33 Kansas City area high schools was celebrated and over $10,000 in scholarships was awarded. The event was livestreamed on social media, and is still available for viewing through Starlight’s Facebook page.
For those that may be unfamiliar, Starlight launched the Blue Star Awards during the 2002-2003 school year to recognize the tremendous talent of area youth throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area. Modeled after Broadway’s Tony Awards®, the program offers a unique opportunity for students from different backgrounds and areas to come together in the spirit of healthy competition, to foster a deeper appreciation of the arts, and to reap the benefits of extracurricular participation - improved academic performance, higher self-esteem, positive social interaction, building essential life skills, and more – that goes beyond high school athletics.
Since many high schools were unable to present a musical (at least in a traditional format) during the 2020-2021 school year, however, Starlight also adjusted its approach to the program this season. Throughout the year, Starlight hosted a variety of noncompetitive workshops and training opportunities to help students develop and grow. Furthermore, participating schools were not evaluated on their productions; instead, award categories were adjusted to highlight the broader work of schools and students.
In addition to recognizing talent in performance and technical achievement, these awards categories include a Community Impact Award, which recognize a theatre troupe that finds ways to connect to their community, whether through productions or troupe initiatives. New this year, the Dream Production Award was designed as an opportunity to highlight the creativity of students working in the areas of design, direction, and/or choreography. In December, Starlight’s Community Engagement team announced Peter Pan as the inaugural Dream Production show, after which students had three weeks to complete a design, creative brief, and artist statement for their own version of this production.
Congratulations to all of this year’s Blue Star Awards recipients:
Millie Bell, Dream Production Award (Choreography), Olathe East
Elaine Watson, Rising Star Scholarship, Lee’s Summit North
Nadia Higareda, Rising Star Scholarship, Liberty North
Winnetonka High School, Community Impact Award
Breanna Kristian,Technical Achievement Award (Stage Management and Properties Design), Olathe East
Grant Martin, Technical Achievement Award (Costume Design), Olathe East
Nathan Caskey, Technical Achievement Award (Lighting Design and Scenic Construction), Raymore-Peculiar
Darcie Hingula, Performance Scholarship, St. Theresa’s Academy
Elaine Watson, Performance Scholarship, Lee’s Summit North
Emily Clark, Performance Scholarship, Platte County
Maddy Terril, Performance Scholarship, Saint Thomas Aquinas
Madelynn Darst, Performance Scholarship, Platte County
Sydney Nicks, Performance Scholarship, Olathe East
Justin Cooley, Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role, Olathe East
Ava Wolesky, Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role, Liberty North