In the Loop
Press Release : Apr 17, 2017

Friends of Theatre + Dance create award program for local high school students

Gainesville, Fla., April 20, 2017 – The University of Florida (UF) Friends of Theatre + Dance (FOTD) announce the newly created program, Excellence in Theatre Arts: A Recognition Program for High School Students. The Excellence in Theatre Arts (ETA) award program annually recognizes exemplary dedicated high school theatre students and the teachers who inspire them.

The ETA will recognize high school juniors, selected by their drama teachers, who have demonstrated outstanding dedication for the theatre arts in performance or “behind the scenes.” Recognized students and their teachers will receive season passes to UF School of Theatre + Dance (SOTD) performances and will be invited to observe and/or participate in select masterclasses held at SOTD during the student’s senior year of high school.

"The Board of UF's Friends of Theatre + Dance supports the talented students and exceptional programs and performances of the School of Theatre + Dance,” said Chris Morris, Friends of Theatre + Dance Board Member and retired PK Yonge Principal. “We additionally wanted to honor and recognize the outstanding theatre students, their teachers and programs in our local high schools. Our hope is to both recognize these students' dedication to the theatre arts and to provide opportunities for them to further enrich their artistic experiences."

Each year, students from Oak Hall, PK Yonge, Buchholz High School, Santa Fe High School, Eastside High School and Gainesville High School will be selected for the ETA award.

"Alachua County Public Schools is thrilled to partner with the UF School of Theater + Dance. This Theater Arts partnership provides young students with opportunities to not only be exposed to new experiences, yet to also collaborate with university-level students and faculty. The Fine Arts Department is thankful to so many for their generosity this collaboration brings."

This year, the following students are the recipients of the ETA award:

Lauren Wilkinson from Oak Hall – Teacher: Brook Molitor

Brianne Jackson from PK Yonge – Teacher: Rachel Snyder

Kaitlyn Cordero and Zach Mitchell from Buchholz High School – Teacher Ted Lewis

Katelyn Branaman from Santa Fe High School – Teacher: Eleanor Frattino

Emma Donnelly from Eastside High School – Teacher: Tammy Myers

“Gainesville is fortunate to have a number of outstanding theatre programs in its preparatory and high schools,” said Jerry Dickey, Director of the School of Theatre + Dance. “Over the years, the UF School of Theatre + Dance has been enriched by many student majors matriculating from these local schools. This new recognition, the Excellence in Theatre Arts Award, is the brainchild of our school’s support organization, the Friends of Theatre + Dance. Student award recipients will receive recognition at our school’s spring convocation, be presented with vouchers to attend our theatre productions next season, and receive invitations to participate in master classes with faculty and guest artists. Our School welcomes this closer involvement with the talented students from our local schools.”

“We are so pleased to be able to offer this unique opportunity linking the college and its School of Theatre + Dance to local deserving high school students and their teachers,” said Lucinda Lavelli, Dean of the College of the Arts. “We applaud the talent and dedication to the arts demonstrated by the high school students and their faculty, and we’re excited to be able to share our university program with them. I’d like to send a special thanks to our support group the Friends of Theatre + Dance for making this program a reality.”  

About the School of Theatre + Dance

The School of Theatre + Dance is one of the University of Florida College of the Arts’ institutionally-accredited schools. Undergraduate students can pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting, dance, musical theatre, theatre production—including costume design, lighting design and scenic design—or a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance studies or general theatre. Minors are also offered in dance and theatre as well as certificates in arts in medicine and dance in healthcare. Student organizations showcase programs and other intensives provide students with invaluable professional experiences. UF is home to three School of Theatre + Dance performance venues, including the Constans Theatre, Black Box Theatre and G-6 Studio. To learn more about the School of Theatre + Dance, including upcoming performance dates and ticket information, visit

About the College of the Arts

The College of the Arts is one of the 16 colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. The College of the Arts offers baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its three institutionally-accredited schools — the School of Art + Art History, School of Music and School of Theatre + Dance. The college is home to the Center for Arts in Medicine, Center for Arts and Public Policy, Center for World Arts, Digital Worlds Institute, University Galleries and the New World School of the Arts in Miami. More than 100 faculty members and approximately than 1,200 students work together daily to engage, inspire and create. The college hosts more than 300 performances, exhibitions and events each year. Faculty and students also exhibit and perform at other local, national and international venues. To learn more, visit

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Media Contact:

Allison Alsup

Public Relations and Partnerships Specialist