LINCOLN, NEBRASKA – On Thursday, Cullman High School (CHS) Theatre student Grant Holland became the first student in school history to earn a Superior rating at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, NE, taking the top honor in the category of Musical Theatre. Holland landed a spot at the elite invitation-only event after scoring superior at the Alabama Thespian Festival in Feb., only the second CHS student to do so, following Drew Fillinger.
Holland just completed his junior year, during which he starred in the school’s spring production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He attended the festival accompanied by CHS Theatre Director Wayne Cook and CHS Choral Director Sarah Jane Skinner.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” Cook said. ” You go through a lot of hoops to get to that point, you know. You have to get to the state and do well there, and they’re pretty stingy at the state.”
We were able to catch up with Holland before an evening show at the festival Thursday evening, and he told us, “When I found out, I was amazed! It was very unexpected, because I was honored enough just to be able to come here and perform, because this is what I want to do for a living. So, when they showed me the medal and that I won superior, I was speechless!”
Holland also told us, “I can thank three people, for sure: Wayne Cook–of course, Sarah Jane Skinner, and Laci New.”
Cook spoke for himself and Skinner in telling us, “We’re both incredibly proud of Grant and his accomplishments. And I told him the day he competed, I said, ‘You’ve got an opportunity to do something no one’s ever done in our community,’ and he went and did it!
“And so, we’re very proud of him. And we feel like, with the right kind of direction, we can bring more kids back to do this. You know, it’s hard, but it’s not out of reach for our kids. It’s not. They’ve just got to work hard. If they work hard, they can do it. And we’re trying to create that environment in our program.”
CHS Principal Kim Hall told us in a message, “The Cullman High School Fine Arts Department has established a stellar program where creative students achieve at their highest potential. We are proud of our directors and students who competed at the International Thespian Festival. We are especially proud of Grant Holland for his superior award-winning performance.”
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