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 School Theatre Standouts Honored at Ben Vereen Awards

Ben Vereen, Patrick Garcia, Sarah Bilyeu SDCCUBen Vereen, Patrick Garcia of Scripps Ranch High School, and Sarah Bilyeu of SDCCU.

Scripps Ranch High School’s Patrick Garcia has been named the Best Local Theatre Teacher at the 2017 Ben Vereen Awards, sponsored by San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU) and held in collaboration with Broadway/San Diego.

“SDCCU congratulates Mr. Garcia for this prestigious achievement,” said SDCCU President and CEO Teresa Halleck. “The Best Local Theatre Teacher Award provides the opportunity to recognize talented and hard-working teachers throughout San Diego County. The students competing in The Ben Vereen Awards could never reach their full potential without the invaluable instruction and direction of such teachers.”

The Ben Vereen Awards is a competition for high school students who are talented in musical theater, including vocal, dance, and acting performance. The awards ceremony was held May 28 at the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego.

Eighteen teachers were nominated and nearly 1,500 votes were submitted in the Best Local Theatre Teacher contest, which ran on Facebook for two weeks in May. Students, parents, family members, and friends were asked to nominate and vote for a deserving drama or theatre teacher who made a positive difference in their life, the life of a child, or in the community.

As part of the award, SDCCU will send Garcia to New York City to attend the 2017 Jimmy Awards, also known as the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.

The Ben Vereen Awards also recognized school performances and student performers.
Candidates for Best Musical, Best Actor, and Best Actress were selected from onsite adjudications of high school musicals at their home venues during the 2016-17 school year.
Jillian Strattman of San Dieguito Academy was named Best Actress, Sky Frank of San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts was named Best Actor, and Cathedral Catholic High School received the Best Musical award for “Anything Goes.”

Strattman and Frank were selected from a field of 20 leading nominees. They will be flown to New York for a week of intensive training before they compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards on a Broadway stage on June 26. The national winners receive $10,000 toward a college scholarship.

The 2017 Ben Vereen Awards ceremony also included the announcement of the Wellness Through the Arts Student Essay/Video Contest winners. Participants must submit a video or essay based on the topic “My Best Day.” The submission must address the student’s greatest challenge in their life, how they have risen above the challenge, and how they have improved their life with a favorite activity or hobby.

Chula Vista High School received the top prize and $1,000 for School Group Video Project. Five individual winners, each receiving $500, were named: Brooke Eyler, Rancho Buena Vista High School; Kiana Gomes, Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary; Marco Manzo, San Diego High School; Karla Miranda Torres, New Dawn High School; and Sacred Swindell, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts.