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Ossining High School Gets 10 Theater Nominations

OSSINING, N.Y. – They didn’t do it for the awards. But Ossining High School students say they were ecstatic when they found out last week the school’s production of Aida was nominated 10 times for the Metropolitan High School Theater Awards.

The March production of Aida featured a mix of the school’s traditional talent, as well as first-timers. While the Helen Hayes Youth Theatre Company has handed out awards since 1998 to more than 40 different schools, this year marked the first time Ossining High School chose to compete. Aida Director Jessica Beattie said no one at the school got involved just to win an award.

“We decided to try out the awards but we did the show for us and for our community,” Beattie said. “But now we’re the seventh-most nominated school out of about 40. And we’re up there with private schools with unlimited funding. But we did it with heart and we did it together and I think that’s what got us the nominations. Our show soared beyond expectation on every level because we all believed in ourselves and believed together in the beauty of this production.”

Around 40 high schools from Rockland, Westchester and Bergen counties entered the competition this year. Pleasantville High School received 14 nominations, Briarcliff High School received eight nominations and Hastings High School received two. The winners will be announced during an awards ceremony modeled after the Tony Awards June 4 at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill. It’s a night many at Ossining High School are looking forward to, including senior Mykaela Copeland, who’s one of six nominees for Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role.

“I just feel so blessed to be nominated,” Copeland said, quickly shifting attention to the entire cast. “I have to give everyone the credit because we all worked so hard to get here. I don’t feel like it’s an accomplishment for me; I’m really excited for the cast as a whole.”

For many in the cast, the nominations came as a surprise. Sophomore Paris Beato, 15, said she didn’t think she was right for the role of Amneris, but she came away with a nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role.

“The whole entire process was amazing and it changed me as an actress and a singer,” she said. “That was the first time I had done anything like that, so to be nominated is just an amazing feeling and I feel like we all accomplished so much.”

Junior Olivia Shaw, 16, received a nomination for Outstanding Featured Ensemble Member. Like many others involved, the nomination came as a surprise.

“I got a phone call from Ms. Beattie and of course I run out of my bedroom screaming with excitement,” Olivia said, also giving credit to the entire cast. “You can always tell how a show is going to turn out when you see a cast list. And ours was a new, fresh group and that’s what made it so great was our entire cast.” 

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