palmer kraus and hannah theisenUnder the bright lights at the historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, two musical theatre standouts from Maple Grove Senior High’s class of 2017 earned top honors at Hennepin Theatre Trust’s annual Spotlight Showcase on June 13.

Palmer Kraus and Hannah Theisen, who both held lead roles in Maple Grove’s fall 2016 production of Pippin, were named two of the four statewide Triple Threat Award winners this year. They are the first students from Osseo Area Schools to earn this recognition.

Triple Threat honorees are praised for their excellence in singing, acting and dancing, as well as demonstrating community leadership, teamwork and artistry. More than 80 high school juniors and seniors across Minnesota applied for the Triple Threat Award. Forty semifinalists auditioned for a panel of local artists and Hennepin Theatre Trust staff members; from that group, 24 students were chosen as finalists. After an intense series of evaluations, four Triple Threat Award winners—including Kraus and Theisen—were selected.

Up next? Winners will travel to New York City later this month to meet with industry professionals, participate in workshops and attend Broadway shows.

hannah and palmerDuring his career at MGSH, Kraus participated in five shows and held the lead roles of Enjolras in Les Misérables and Pippin in Pippin, the latter of which earned him Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role recognition from the Spotlight Education program. He plans to attend Chapman University in Orange, Calif., to pursue a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance.

Theisen is an eight-show veteran of Maple Grove’s theatre department, and her résumé includes Guys & Dolls, Les Misérables and Cinderella. In last fall’s Pippin, she portrayed the Leading Player and earned Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role honors from Spotlight. Theisen will attend the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University this fall to pursue a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre.

“Hannah and Palmer are both incredible leaders who have made the MGSH community so much better through their selfless leadership, passion for the arts, and vulnerability on stage,” said Beth Hellstedt, choir and theatre director at Maple Grove Senior. “All of their directors and peers in the program would agree that they are the true embodiment of the requirements for the Triple Threat award.”

Now completing its 12th year, Spotlight Education provides valuable educational, performing and creative experiences for more than 5,000 Minnesota students in 87 schools. Through Spotlight Education, students receive professional training and guidance to enhance their artistic, technical and performing skills. These activities help foster essential life skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and self-expression. Learn more

TOP PHOTO: Maple Grove Senior High 2017 alumni Palmer Kraus and Hannah Theisen perform in their school's production of Pippin last fall (photo courtesy of Any Angle Photography). 

alyssa risch   sikai yang   collin sham

Three seniors from Osseo Area Schools are recipients of 2017 National Merit Scholarships from local universities.

Collin Sham of Osseo Senior High and Sikai Yang of Maple Grove Senior High won National Merit University of Minnesota Scholarships, while Maple Grove’s Alyssa Risch won a National Merit University of St. Thomas Scholarship. These awards provide winners with $500 to $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study. Sham and Yang plan to study biochemistry and business, respectively, while Risch plans to pursue a chemistry major.

Risch, Sham and Yang are among 3,200 nationwide winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities. Scholarship winners were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors who appraised their academic records, standardized test scores, and contributions and leadership in school and community activities. National Merit Finalists who wished to be considered for one of these scholarships were also required to submit a personal essay and a recommendation from a high school official.

This year, 182 higher education institutions throughout the United States sponsored Merit Scholarship awards through the National Merit Scholarship Program.

PHOTOS: (L to R) Alyssa Risch, Sikai Yang and Collin Sham won college-sponsored National Merit Scholarships this spring. These scholarships will provide them with $500 to $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study. 



Four Osseo Area Schools students named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists

Four Osseo Area Schools students named National Merit Scholarship finalists