The theater performers at Omni Prize for the Arts festival were a mix of professionals from across the Midwest, but one group consisted of some speakers who had never stood on a stage before.
DePue High School entered the judged art fair and students read a collection of poems and original works as a part of a “New and Borrowed” performance above Jeremiah Joe in the 807 Building.
English teacher Andrea Kowalski, of Ottawa, entered them into the festival as she thought it would be a great experience and after hearing interest from certain students.
“They did a great job,” Kowalski said. “We have no formal drama department at DePue so they really did it and they practiced after school almost every day.”
For some, it was the first time sharing pieces in front of a crowd, which consisted of nearly a dozen viewers.
“It was nerve-wracking when we first got here but it got easier,” said 16-year-old Melisa Madrigal, of DePue.
“I told them once they got on stage it’d be fine,” added 18-year-old Kayla Thompson, of DePue.
Thompson presented her original piece “Afterthought” during the performance.
Also performing from DePue were 15-year-old Madison Longbein, 17-year-old Daniel Ramirez and 16-year-old Magdalena Gavina.
Gavina was no stranger to the stage as she had previously received an award at the Princeton Prairie Arts festival last year for her piece “Dear Diary,” which she also read in Ottawa.
Gavina said she was glad to have had the second experience and credited her teacher as the reason for their success on the stage.
“(Kowalski) is great. She kept on encouraging us. She kept on making us come to practice,” Gavina said. “It was great to have her there as she was so supportive of us.”