Woodlawn High Continues the Tradition of Award Winning Student Films

Woodlawn High Continues the Tradition of Award Winning Student Films

Woodlawn High School’s Talented Theatre students have once again left their mark on the cinematic landscape with their latest creation, The Never Ending Duel. This captivating short film, written and directed by Woodlawn High School Senior Ava Jones, has garnered accolades at the esteemed Film Prize Jr. Film Festival and Competition in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Ava Jones, a senior in Woodlawn High School’s Gifted and Talented Theatre program, showcased her exceptional creativity and directorial expertise in bringing The Never Ending Duel to life. With her vision and dedication, Ava crafted every aspect of the film, from its inception to the final storyboard. Her previous involvement as the lead character in Woodlawn High School’s 2023 Audience Choice Award-winning film, Reap What You Sow, underscores her remarkable talent and commitment to the craft.

Beyond her achievements in filmmaking, Ava’s academic excellence and passion for creative writing have earned her acceptance into 15 colleges nationwide. With plans to pursue a degree in Creative Writing, Ava has already been awarded over $1.16 million in four-year merit scholarships, a testament to her outstanding achievements and bright future ahead.

Ava Jones proudly shows off her award at the film festival.

“The students worked incredibly hard on their film; everything that you see on screen was completed by a student. Creating a film of any length is a difficult process, just completing a film is a major accomplishment. Seeing the culmination of all of their work, the final realized piece, was incredible,” stated Ms. Mullins, Woodlawn’s Talented Theatre teacher. “Being able to sit in the audience and watch film after incredible film and knowing that they were all created by the students sitting around me from all over the state was an amazing experience and one that I hope we can bring to more students next year!”

The success of The Never Ending Duel wouldn’t have been possible without the collaborative efforts of the Louisiana Shakespeare Company, particularly the invaluable contributions of Liz Odom, the head of fight choreography. Their expertise elevated the film’s fight sequences, adding depth and authenticity to the storytelling.

As the virtual Film Prize Jr. Festival unfolds, viewers have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the diverse array of student-created films, including The Never Ending Duel. Woodlawn High School encourages the community to watch the films and cast their votes for their favorites, supporting their quest for the Audience  Choice Award.

Join the excitement of the virtual film festival by visiting https://filmprizejr.com/festival/ and exploring the 96 submissions before Monday, April 22nd, 2024. Let’s rally behind Woodlawn High School and celebrate the talent and creativity of Ava Jones and her fellow students.

Woodlawn Theatre Department to Present Virtual Production, Help Desk

Woodlawn Theatre Department to Present Virtual Production, Help Desk

Woodlawn High School’s Theater 3 Class will present a virtual production of the play Help Desk. Help Desk was written by Don Zolidis. The hilarious comedy details the problems that arise when you call the help desk. Although you’re looking for a solution when you call the help desk, your problems may just be beginning!

Katelynn Johnson performs her part in Help Desk.

Tickets to the play can be purchased beginning Monday, May 3rd for $8 through the Woodlawn High website. Those who purchase the production online will receive a link to the play via email and will be able to watch the play from the comfort of their own home. While students and parents are encouraged to use their credit or debit cards and purchase the link online, students may stop by the theater to pay in cash if they would like. Students paying with cash must provide an email address when purchasing so that they can receive the link.

The Theater students have worked very hard over the last two months. The production features a collaboration between virtual and in person students in the class and was filmed using Zoom.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work that the students have put in to make this production happen during such a challenging year,” said Ms. Leonard-Brubaker. “Performing with someone who isn’t in the same room with you is difficult for even the most seasoned performer, and these kids really pushed themselves to overcome that challenge and produce a really funny show.”

The cast of Help Desk features Jasmine Gray, Joshua Robins, Braeden Hodges, Yezeed Manna, Jason Delcid, Jianna Ross, Alyric Alexander, and Katlynn Johnson.

Godspell Jr. to Hit Woodlawn Stage

Godspell Jr. to Hit Woodlawn Stage

The Woodlawn High School Theatre Program will be presenting Godspell Jr. on Thursday, March 26th. Boasting a score with chart topping songs, Godspell Jr. is a sensation that will touch audiences.

A group of disciples help Jesus Christ tell different parables by using a wide variety of games, storytelling techniques, and a hefty dose of comic timing. An eclectic blend of songs, ranging in style from pop to vaudeville, are employed as the story of Jesus’ life dances across the stage. Dissolving hauntingly into the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, Jesus’ messages of kindness, tolerance, and love come vibrantly to life.

A school performance will be presented during 2nd period and an after school performance for friends and family will be offered at 6 pm that evening. Tickets are $2 for the school performance and $5 for the evening performance.

Culture Club Provides Stage for Talent

Culture Club Provides Stage for Talent

These kids, man. These kids.

These kids are amazing. And we didn’t recognize it. Not soon enough, at least. Not until they were almost gone. Luckily for us, Tarquin Kenner came around.

Kenner, a 24-year old paraprofessional at Woodlawn High School, brought an idea from his alma mater, Destrehan High School, to his new profession at the south Baton Rouge school. He came to coach football, but quickly saw something that so many others did not see.

He saw talent. He saw students that needed a platform. He decided to give it to them.

Kenner chose to sponsor the Culture Club. The idea came from the St. Charles Parish high school which he called home for four years. After getting permission from administration to start the club, he reached out for help. Malakah Hawkins, a social studies teacher, was up for the challenge.

With the help of Hawkins, Kenner began recruiting students.

“This was something that I decided to do based on what we did at Destrehan High. I felt that it was a positive influence on my life, and it was something that I could pass on to the younger generation,” explained Kenner. “It wasn’t easy at the beginning. Kids didn’t really want to be a part of it. ‘What’s that? What are we going to be doing?’ I heard all the excuses in the book. But then, Jeroderick bought in, and he was able to bring more people into it.”

Students perform as part of “Cypher’s Corner” during the opening of Blurred Lines.

Jeroderick Allen is an 18-year old senior at Woodlawn. Allen had been at Woodlawn since his freshman year, but had nothing to look back upon fondly. He saw Kenner’s plan as a way to change this. Allen was asked what he saw in Kenner that made him want to be a part of the Culture Club

“I saw a vision that would allow us to bring something to Woodlawn,” Allen said. “Coach brought the idea to us, and I was like, ‘Yea, it’s going to be a good move for Woodlawn, period. This club could be a positive influence on students here. It could change the way that others look at us.’ The whole vision of seeing talent come together and doing good things, that’s what I really told people about to get them involved and draw them in.”

The formation of the Culture Club was just the beginning. The group began having sporadic meetings. Kenner quickly found students that he became close to. These students are now the heart of the club.

The step teams came next. They quickly spawned from the Culture Club. The Suave Kings and the Alluring Queens, collectively known as the Royal Panthers, were born. Practices began after school in November. Lunch performances came next, followed by halftime shows at basketball games and a performance in Woodlawn’s Fine Arts program, “All the World’s a Stage.” Kenner and the Royal Panthers began thinking about their next step.

“Once the Royal Panthers began performing in public, I decided that maybe they were ready for a bigger performance. Members of the Culture Club also started coming to me about a program for Black History Month,” described Kenner.

The Suave Kings step during Blurred Lines.

Members began discussing the idea of a performance at one of the now regular meetings. The idea was brought to Mr. Stevens, Woodlawn’s principal. After he agreed to the plan, the group got to work. Blurred Lines was born.

Allen expounded on the genesis of Blurred Lines.

“Everyone brought something to the table,” he said. “The program made sense being that February was coming up. It was little bits of everybody. Ms. Hawkins and Coach Kenner brought everyone together, and the program belonged to everybody. It was a whole team.”

Sure, the Culture Club was ready to produce the show. But would this be enough? Could the students convince others to join?

“Most of us that performed today were Culture Club members, but we had to get some other students to help out with the production,” said Keon Simmons, a 17-year old senior at Woodlawn High. “Trevon (Hardnett) was one of the first we got to commit to the program.”

Simmons and other Culture Club members reached out to friends that they knew had talent.

“Everyone here has some type of talent, and we wanted to put as many people as we could into the program to show off all of our talents,” Simmons said. “We just knew we needed to put them together.”

Hardnett was approached, but was skeptical.

Kerrington Hill “proposes” to Briana Jacob as part of the Fashion Show during Blurred Lines.

“Right off the bat, I didn’t think it was going to turn into much,” Hardnett explained. “I wasn’t ecstatic about doing it. I was happy they reached out to me though. They came to me, and asked me to help, so I was happy that they gave me a chance to do something with them.”

Hardnett did not know what his contribution to the program would be. This changed one day after school, when he and Alton Morgan, another 18-year old senior, were “vibing out in class.” Simmons and Morgan had previously worked together, and knew they wanted to perform together in front of the school. It wasn’t until Morgan and Hardnett began singing that day that their performance started to come together.

“Trey and I started bouncing ideas, and he started singing this hook, and I was like, ‘Yea, I like that, I can write to that,’” explained Morgan. “We matched. So I presented the idea to Keon, and he was like, ‘We can put a band behind it.’ So we decided to do a whole live performance.”

Simmons knew exactly where to go from that point. He approached Meshak Muyaka, a 17-year old junior in the Woodlawn band. Muyaka quickly got other members of the jazz band, the Smooth Purple Groove, to join the project. Treyln Miller, a 19-year old senior, was recruited to play the drums. Brennan Burleigh, a 16-year old junior, played bass, and Cody Coleman, an 18-year old senior, played guitar. Muyaka played piano. The group was ready to perform.

Muyaka wrote the music, mainly by just listening to Morgan and Hardnett. Once he heard the melody, he says it was easy to create the chords.

At a practice, Allen heard the group performing, and says the vibe just fit. He joined the group, playing the saxophone. The chemistry was there, and it wasn’t long before Hawkins decided that this performance, which the group was calling “The Cypher’s Corner”, would open the Black History Performance.

From there, Hawkins and Kenner worked to complete the remainder of the program. Students from the Culture Club combined with artists, musicians, dancers, and others from the school to perform dances, spoken word, a monologue, a fashion show, and a one act play. In total, over fifty students performed in Blurred Lines.

“It was easy to help create this awesome program, because the students that were apart of Blurred Lines were amazing. They had so much heart and dedicated so much time to making it a success,” explained Hawkins. “I loved giving the students a platform to showcase their own original pieces.”

Students from the Fashion Show pose after the performance of Blurred Lines.

Members of the Culture Club were also quick to point out help from other students who did not perform.

“Mr. Sorenson and his theater department had a great deal of involvement. They had a huge part in putting the production on,” said Muyaka. “Grayson, Matthew, and Wesley Livingston all ran the lights and sound for the program.”

Grayson Barrett is a student in one of Woodlawn’s Theater Design and Technology sections. Matthew Jobborn and Wesley Livingston just enjoy doing light and sound as a hobby. Livingston plans on taking Theater Design next year. The students even allowed freshman Javier Allen, another student in Theater Design and Technology, to run the lights for the second half of the performances after stepping with the Alluring Queens. They were happy to help the younger student learn the ins and outs of producing lights for a production of this magnitude.

“Derwinisha Alford and Sadie Boudreaux, they did the majority of the Blurred Lines painting that was on stage,” added Morgan. “I helped with some of the painting, but they did that painting.”

The group also raved about the pictures taken by senior Krissy Danh. Danh, a transfer from Baton Rouge Magnet High School, explained that many students on campus have talents, and she was just happy that she was asked to be involved and help capture the heartfelt emotion of the performers.

Muyaka perhaps said it best when discussing the talent that came together to present Blurred Lines.

“Overall, this opened my eyes to what student on campus can do. You never know what the student next to you can do. When I first came to Woodlawn, I didn’t know he rapped, I didn’t know he rapped. When I joined the Culture Club, I learned that,” Muyaka said.

“Everyone has some type of talent,” added Danh. “Blurred Lines showed that.”

Now, we see these kids doing things. We see them making moves. And, man, are we lucky.

All pictures for this article were provided by Krissy Danh.

Woodlawn High School’s Fine Arts Department Presents “All the World’s a Stage”

Woodlawn High School’s Fine Arts Department Presents “All the World’s a Stage”

The house was packed as families, friends and district representatives attended the arts showcase hosted by Woodlawn High School’s Fine Arts Department on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 in the WHS Auditorium. The showcase, entitled “All the World’s a Stage” after Shakespeare’s play by the same name, featured visual art displays, musical numbers, theatrical scenes and performance art pieces.

While browsing a visual arts exhibit before the show, guests were invited to enjoy jambalaya prepared by parent, Samantha Jett. The visual arts exhibit featured displays from students enrolled in Art I, Art III, AP Studio Art: 2D Design, and Talented Visual Art courses. Favorite pieces were a 3D portrait created by Art III student Abdulkhaleq Hussain and Cubism-inspired self-portrait by Talented Art student, Elijah Sykes.

The talent exhibited in the visual arts displays was echoed by an orchestra trio featuring Advanced Orchestra student, Christopher Breaud; Talented Music student, Joshua “Drew” Garon Jr.; and orchestra teacher, Ms. Falco. Drew Garon performed a solo composed by Vivaldi on the violin later in the showcase.

Talented theatre student Trinh Nguyen introduces Lost N’ Sound at All the World’s a Stage.

After a brief welcome and introduction by Talented theatre student, Trinh Nguyen, Lost N’ Sound, the WHS Pop A Cappello Choir took the floor, performing popular pieces such as Stitches by Shaun Mendez and Somebody I Used to Know by Goyte. With standout vocalists Jaylyn James and Shaun McCray singing, it was not long before the cameras were flashing and the crowd was singing along.

The Suave King Panthers, led by Jeroderick Allen Jr. and the Alluring Queens, under the direction of Nakavia Chapman, were next up on stage. The WHS Step Team really “stepped it up” for this performance with both whole group and separate team routines that captivated the audience with their in-sync movements and hand-foot coordination.

The WHS Jazz Ensemble, The Smooth Purple Groove, played equally engaging rhythms with songs such as I Feel Good by James Brown and Night and Day, arranged by EBR Talented Music teacher, Mike Esneault. Performers such as Kyle Monic, Mason Stubbs, and Brennan Burleigh took turns showing off their talent as they played jazz solos throughout the pieces. Evan Earl, Joshua Hayden, Christopher Jones, Javin Leggett, Blaine van Stock, and Invie Williams played multiple selections that showcased their talent as part of the Talented Music Ensemble, under the direction of EBR Talented Music teacher, BJ McGibney.

The showcase would not be complete without the dramatic performances of our theatre students and drama club. Members of the Theatre IV class and drama club performed in multiple scenes from classic television shows including Pet Shop, a Monty Python sketch performed by McKenzie Martin and Kennedy Sorrell and Who’s on First by Abbott and Costello, performed by Dominic Messina and Mitchell Maclean. The drama club did not forget the literary classics when Madisyn McAlister portrayed a lead role in a scene from Lord Byron’s Love Letter by Tennessee Williams.

Students who participated in All the World’s a Stage receive cheers from the crowd and pose for pictures after the performance.

In the last performance of the night, The Bully Pulpit by Dwayne Hartford, the Talented Theatre students used their skills to highlight a common concern among school age students, bullying. With comedic relief throughout the performance, they were able to portray what bullying is and how it affects those involved. The showcase concluded with a curtain call featuring the entire company with a special recognition to the key players behind the scenes, Javier Allen, John Grayson Barrett, Laila Fisher, Keveyon Franklin, Matthew Jobborn, and Caleb Massarek.

The company would like you remember that “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” and without the support of some key players, this would not be possible. The company would like to thank Mr. Sorenson for directing the arts showcase, Ms. Samantha Jett for preparing the jambalaya, Ms. Washington for capturing the performances on camera, all program sponsors for their guidance, and family and friends that attended for their support. Also, they would like to extend a special thanks to the district representatives that attended, including School Board Representative, Jill Dyason; Executive Director of High Schools, Benjamin Necaise; Director of Fine Arts, Wayne Talbot; and Supervisor of Gifted and Talented Programs, Babs Stapleton.