Archive for April, 2013

Music and Drama Excellence Rewarded!

I want to share the wonder of a recent high school achievement.  Choir/Theatre Students at Pearland High School were declared the very best in the Greater Houston area during last Tuesday’s Tommy Tune Awards.

Being relatively new to my position here, I am just becoming acquainted with Houston’s prominent place in world-class fine art performances.  Thus, when I was told that Pearland High School was nominated for a record 10 Tommy Tune Awards, I didn’t really understand the significance.  I knew that Houston attracted the best Broadway shows along with international stars from places as far away as Europe and China.  But I didn’t grasp the collaboration now existing between this world-class venue and Houston-area high schools.

Don’t get me wrong.  Though I have absolutely no acting or musical talent, I have a great appreciation for those who perform.  In fact, I comfort myself with the notion that I’m able to appreciate fine arts more than many simply because it is so far above my talent level — as to render excellent performances as magical and other-worldly.

A month ago, I was invited by our people to attend the April 16 Tommy Tune awards ceremony at the Hobby Center — at which winners would be announced.  Since I receive a large volume of such invitations, I really wasn’t sure whether this was significant.  So I didn’t request a ticket, though I’d been told it would likely sell out.  A day before the actual event, I noted it was on my calendar as a “maybe,” so I asked if there were any tickets left.  Apparently not.  But when the Choir Booster Club was told of my interest, they spread the word, and before the day was out, I was presented with two tickets.  I decided that since that kindness was shown, I needed to go.

My wife and I arrived at the Hobby Center and were a little awed by the venue. I ran into one of my peer superintendents on the ground floor.  He oversees a much bigger district in the Houston area.  He asked me if I’d ever been to this before and told me I’d be wowed by what I saw. He was right.

My wife and I made our way to the 5th floor (unofficially designated by our Choir parents as the nosebleed section) and sat down among a group of pretty excited Pearland parents.  As I looked down and around, there was the dizzying sight of thousands of people waiting for the event to begin.  The acoustics were superb; a video montage of past year’s winners was shown, and big name Houston/Hollywood celebrities began introducing themselves.  Mr. Tommy Tune himself, the accomplished winner of 9 Tony Awards and the National Medal of Arts, stepped to the podium and gave a short history of this event.  This year, a record 45 different high schools received nominations — including magnet schools for the fine arts, private schools, large public high schools, and a few smaller high schools well known for lots of money.

My immediate thought was:  It is quite prestigious to be a part of this group and even nicer to be nominated in 10 areas.  I can’t expect we’ll win competing against such behemoths, but perhaps people will take notice of our many nominations.

Then to my astonishment, we won one of the first big categories in the competition.   People around me started hootin’ and hollerin’.  I thought, “This is serious.”  As the evening progressed, 8 of 10 major awards were announced, and Pearland High had won 3 of them.  This was more than ANY other high school.  Nathan Agnew won “Best Supporting Actor, our production won “Best Choreography” and then “Best Crew and Technical Execution”.

What followed was a final performance in which they had all of the nominees for best leading actress perform a medley together.  Once again, I was astounded by the talent.  Near the end of that medley, our own nominee (Allison Anderson) stepped forward for her solo turn.  I told my wife that our Pearland girl carried herself with exceptional modesty and grace — while clearly displaying an amazing talent.  The best actress winner for this year’s high school musicals was then announced, and Allison’s name rang out!  That meant we now garnered 4 of the top 9 awards with one award left to go.  The people around me were high fiving, yelling, and no longer sitting down.

Tommy Tune then walks to the podium, a hush comes over the crowd, and he announces that the final award of the night for Best Musical is the most prestigious and highest honor.  He tears open the envelope and announces, “Pearland High School!”

We won 5 of the top 10 awards.  In the midst of all these accolades that night, our students had a poise, confidence and humility that shone more brightly than any stage spotlight.  I’m proud to just bask in their reflected glory.  My thanks to teachers Derrick Bready (Choir) and Scott Fults (Drama) whose hard work and collaboration made these results possible.

And I especially congratulate all of the students acting and staging this stunning achievement.  As pointed out this night by the Hollywood celebs who began their acting careers in Houston area high schools:  There’s obviously a short distance between stellar Houston High School Fine Arts achievements — and world-wide acknowledgement!