Two thumbs up for Panther performance

After weeks of pouring themselves into the act of acting, Rappahannock’s Drama Club realized its dream of being the first in Rappahannock County High School (RCHS) history to advance to the Region B competition. The team also celebrated three additional awards: Gus Norris and Henry Mason received Outstanding Actor honors, while Russell Paulette earned the coveted Director of the Year trophy.

To earn their region berth, Panther thespians competed last Saturday (Oct 20) in Madison County at the Bull Run District One-Act Theater Festival. The eight teams drew for performance order, with RCHS drawing the last spot. “We managed to see six of the schools perform,” said director Russell Paulette. “It was a full day of theater.”

Henry Mason, who played the lead in RCHS’ one-act play entry, poses Gus Norris. Both won outstanding actor honors. Photo by Kate Moreno.
Henry Mason, who played the lead in RCHS’ one-act play entry, poses Gus Norris. Both won outstanding actor honors. Photo by Kate Moreno.

In coach-like, pre-game fashion, Paulette developed a psychological strategy as well as a play strategy. “Going into it, I tried to regulate my expectations,” he said. “We have performed at the same level every year: third behind Madison and Manassas Park. So, I picked a play that I wasn’t confident that the judges would even like [“The Imaginary Invalid: A Dramatical Primer,” by Amanda Petefish-Schrag and Ben Schrag]. But I thought the students would like it and it would be fun to do. I also wanted something that would include as many students as possible. During the rehearsal stage, like always, worry sets in when our very active student schedules don’t allow for everyone to get together at the same time.”

The efforts paid multiple dividends when it came to the panel of judges. “Their comments were extremely complimentary,” Paulette said. “They were impressed with the amount of students we packed onto the stage – 32. The play also has a lot of all-call lines, and judges were impressed with how everyone was hitting their marks and hitting their lines.”

Rappahannock Drama Club director Russell Paulette shows off his Director of the Year trophy. Photo by Melissa Delcour.
Rappahannock Drama Club director Russell Paulette shows off his Director of the Year trophy. Photo by Melissa Delcour.

With the vagaries of the point scoring, Madison received a higher averaged ranking than Rappahannock, but the Panthers had the higher technical score of 294/300. Overall, it was the rankings of judges that determined first and second place.

During the awards at day’s end, the Panther troupe had quite a celebration. “When we were announced as runner-up, our students got so excited that you’d thought we’d won the whole thing. Then, I was humbled and overwhelmed to receive Director of the Year.”  

“I feel really honored to be a part of such a great group of thespians,” said sophomore Henry Mason, “and to be recognized in such a way. It’s surreal. I’m also honored that during my first lead role in a play, this is first time Rappahannock gets the opportunity to compete at regionals. This is very special.”

On Nov. 17, the Panther troupe heads to Nelson County for the Region B competition. “We are looking forward to cleaning up our work,” said Paulette, whose club’s competitors there will include a Nelson County High School drama team directed by Diana Driver – whose first class of drama students in York County years ago included . . . Paulette.

“And we are looking forward to being even sharper,” he said. “Especially since we’ll be competing against my former drama teacher.”

Wakefield sports teams earn title shot

From contributed reports

Varsity Volleyball: The Wakefield Country Day School Lady Owls traveled to Foxcroft School for a Delaney Athletic Conference (DAC) match on Oct. 15. The girls earned a 3-0 sweep of the Badgers and improved their DAC Division II record to 5-0. The win secured at least a share of the DAC Division II regular season title with one DAC game remaining at St. Michael’s on Oct. 22. The Lady Owls then played Riverfront Christian in a non-conference match on Oct. 17. The girls secured another 3-0 sweep of a young but determined Rams’ team. Their overall record is 12-8.

Varsity Soccer: The Owls traveled to Massanutten Military Academy to play in the Colonels’ Homecoming game on Oct. 13. The boys scored six goals in the first half, before adding two more in the second half. Senior Marc Cugnon led the team with a hat trick; Daniel Chadduck, Shane and Conor O’Heir, and Gage Landis also scored in the 8-0 shutout.

The Owls then hosted the Fredericksburg Academy Falcons in a DAC Division II game on Oct. 15. Conor O’Heir scored a goal in the first two minutes of the game to give the boys a 1-0 lead; the Falcons tied the game three minutes later. Sam Lilburn put the Owls ahead, and O’Heir added his second goal with 2:12 remaining in the game, making the score 3-1. These two teams will meet again on Oct. 23 in the DAC Division II regular season championship.

The Owls returned to action the next day to host the Front Royal Flames in non-conference action on Oct. 16. The boys scored four goals in the first half and added three more in the second half. Daniel Chadduck had a hat trick, while Sam Nolan, Sam Lilburn, Marc Cugnon and Campbell Baker each added a goal. The Owls’ record is 3-1-1 in the DAC and 6-4-2 overall.