WAXAHACHIE — Out of 76 high schools representing 40 school districts competing for first place in 16 categories, Waxahachie High School took home the gold — three times.

“The first nominations they called, we won three of them,” laughed Andy Reynolds, Waxahachie High School drama director. “We got nominated for seven awards this year which was a really big deal because more schools were participating in this event than in any other year they had done it."

Presented by Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM), the 6th annual High School Musical Theatre Awards was held May 18, bringing in students from across state lines in a “Tony Awards” themed ceremony.

“They had schools, not just from North Texas, but all over Texas,” Reynolds confirmed. “Friendship High School out of Lubbock was the furthest away, and it went as far north as a few schools from Oklahoma, and as far east as Paris, Texas.”

Since the competition’s inception in 2011, the Waxahachie Fine Arts Department has held its own throughout the years.

“We’ve been a part of the DSM contest since it started and we have done pretty well,” Reynolds acknowledged. “I recently counted over the years that we’ve been nominated, and we had over 36 nominations and won 10 of them, which includes best musical and actress last year.”

“[...] So it’s a testament to our Fine Arts Department for sure. It's just validation, and it’s nice for the kids to get recognized for their hard work."

In a packed house with a sold out ceremony, WFAA hosted the event with Reynolds and his department waiting anxiously to hear about the seven categories they were nominated in.

“We didn’t get nominated for Best Musical this year, which was a little surprising but we were still nominated for seven awards and won three,” Reynolds recalled.

Placing second highest for total awards won, it was a close match for Waxahachie High, as Flower Mound High School barely took merit in three more categories altogether.

“We won three and Flower Mound High School won six, but we're very happy and proud of our nominations, and especially for Katie Wilson for Best Supporting Actress as she played Carmen Bernstein in ‘Curtains,’” Reynolds complimented. “And of course, Sam Linguist, who was nominated for Best Actor for playing Christopher Belling, and it was really cool to hear his name called as the winner, especially since he’s only a sophomore. He had a great acceptance speech, and very humble which you would expect him to be, and it was a great night."

As applause and ruptures of congratulations took place, Waxahachie High won "Best Featured Actor" with Sam Linguist; "Best Student Orchestra" by Rich Armstrong; and "Best Musical Direction" from Jeremiah Ieppert and assistant Laurie Duke.

“This was Jeremiah’s first year out, and he won,” Reynolds chuckled. “I gave him a hard time and said, ‘Look at you, you win your first year out, and now I’ll never get you through the door with that big head of yours.’ But he’s fantastic and really great.”

“And Rich Armstrong and his awesome band won Best Orchestra, so it was a great night and we had a lot of fun,” he added.

With a spotlight of recognition highlighting the hard working students and sheer excellence of the 5A school, Reynolds plans to continue growing the program and encourage his students to “reach for the stars.”

“We’re doing a lot of good things with these kids, and I know not all of them will go on to be actors or playwrights, but the confidence they gained by being in the department is going to pay huge dividends for them when they become adults,” Reynolds recognized.

“And I’m glad to be on the front row to see that the sky's the limit for these kids. I’m very proud of them,” he concluded.

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Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer

(469)-517-1450