Local high school wins national grant for theater

The $10,000 grant will provide new opportunities for students

MARTINSBURG, W. Va. - Theater is more than just a hobby for many students across the United States, and for several local thespians, they are getting the opportunity to pursue their dreams thanks to a generous grant.

Many high school students are no stranger to name-calling.

Theater students at Martinsburg High School have learned to turn that into art.

 "When I take that weird person and I use it and I put it on the stage, I'm not weird anymore, I'm good at something," said MacKenzie Young, a theater student at Martinsburg High.

When these students descend the stairs into the world of the theater department, they transform into their characters.

Their passion for drama is what got them recognized by the NBC network.

NBC chose Martinsburg High School for the R.I.S.E. America grant.

"We were selected to receive a $10,000 grant to help us further and promote our theater department and a possibility to be somehow showcased in their new TV show 'Rise,'" explained David Ryan, the theater department leader.

"Rise" is NBC's newest drama about a small town high school's theater department struggling to find inspiration and pursue their dreams.

For the students at Martinsburg High, the plot hits home.

"Not a lot of people know or care that there's a theater department here," said Olyvia Thompson, president of the school's Thespian Society.

However, they are hoping this grant will open new doors of opportunity.

"Something like this where we're forcing people to see us, it's really improving. People just need to see that arts are important, as important as any other department," explained Thompson.

And these opportunities will allow them pursue what their love for theater.

The department plans to use their money to upgrade their black box theater and offer students more opportunities to travel and perform.

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