UK grade school singers academy wins at festival

By Kayla Pickrell

UK’s Academy for Creative Excellence, a performing arts program for young opera students, won “Outstanding Production” in the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta.

A.C.E. is an organization made up of faculty from the College of Fine Arts and students ranging from first to 12th grades.

These students worked together to create a 15-minute production for the 3,000 students in attendance, as well as the producer of NBC.

“We were so proud to put A.C.E. on the map in the educational musical theater world at the Junior Theater Festival,” Mary Joy Nelson, program and vocal director, said.

The non-competition based festival focused solely on creating and showing the musical theater world to youth and help them understand that it is more than just a career, Nelson said.

“There is this huge industry that they can fit into,” Nelson said. “We are here to show them the bigger world of the performing arts.”

After the festival, Patrick Garr, an A.C.E. student, received the accolade of “Outstanding Male Performer.”

“It’s very apparent you all are very well-versed dancers, singers, actors,” Nick Pramik, a former Broadway performer, said of A.C.E. “It’s so good to see good young people be such good actors at such a young age. It’s thrilling to watch.”

Lilly Meekin auditioned and won the part of Tessie in Charles Strouse’s “Annie.” She was given the opportunity to perform alongside students from across the U.S. in honor of the 50th anniversary of “Annie.”

“It is encouraging to hear the kids are on the right track,” Nelson said. “We pour our hearts into the program, and to the kids.”