Marissia Potamianos Jamie Boeheim
Editor of Promotion and Staff Writer
Every year, Syracuse Stage hosts a young playwrights competition for students in Central New Yord. In the seven years since it started, students from Jamesville-DeWitt High School have been known for their success. This year, out of the 325 students who participated, 15 quarter finalists and seven semi-finalists were chosen from J-DHS. This ties with the most amount of J-DHS students to ever be semi-finalists. “I was really happy that we had seven students and knew this had to be one our strongest years,” said English teacher Courtney Romeiser.
One of the reasons J-DHS had such a high success rate this year is because some teachers required their students to write plays in class. This included the ten honors classes taught by English teachers Joe DeChick and Matt Phillips and AP Language teachers Ms. Romeiser and M. Phillips. This was the first year that Ms. Romeiser made her students participate in this contest. She decided to participate because of J-DHS’s success in the past, and also the experience that the students would gain.
The students that participated agree with Ms. Romeiser and said that they benefited from this competition because it was different than any other assignment that they have done. “It was weird to think of things in a play format, usually we write in paragraph format so it was a different kind of style of writing,” said sophomore semi-finalist Ella Kornfeld. Sophomore semi-finalist Aliyah Kilpatrick agreed and said, “I think it made me think more about what I am going to write and construct my writing.” Freshman semi-finalist Anna Burnam agrees and says that this experience has definitely benfitted her. Burnam believes that the workshop this upcoming weekend will help her a lot because of all of the insight from professional play writers and professors.
This contest had very little limitations as to what the students could write about. A lot of the students wrote about topics that they were very passionate about. Sophomore Nancy O’Connor wrote a one person monologue about mental disorders. Kornfeld wrote about how people stereotype vegetarians as very judgemental with the goal of proving this stereotype wrong. On a more personal note, sophomore Sayaka LaClair wrote about the passing of her grandfather and how family members deal with cancer. LaClair used this as a way to cope with her loss.
For the competition, the students had some guidance and assistance from their teachers. Ms. Romeiser, Mr. Dechick, and Mr. Phillips, gave students chances to peer edit and revise their work before sending it to the competition. According to Kilpatrick, Mr. Dechick had them write a five-paged draft, then peer edit it, then write five more pages, and finally turn it in for a grade. Junior Scottie O’Bryan said Ms. Romeiser gave him a lot of tools to utilize for his play and a packet for guidelines with the strict rules of what was required for the competition.
Most of the winners from J-DHS were very shocked that they won. However, they now get a chance to see their very own plays be performed by actors and actresses at Syracuse Stage. Then, they will get to have a “workshop” at Syracuse Stage with a group of professors and professional playwrights to help improve their plays. Following this, the winners will be chosen on April 7. Good luck to all the semi-finalists!
The following are the semi-finalists who will be continuing.
Nancy O’Connor- “Lights”
Sayaka LaClair- “Tengoku”
Ella Kornfeld- “Save the Plants!”
Scottie O’Bryan- “A Way Out”
Aliyah Kilpatrick- “Freed”
Anna Burnam- “America”
Hadar Pepperstone- “Stick Figure”