OGHS wins national performing arts award

By HASKEL BURNS,

Each year, only one high school in the nation is honored with the National Performing Arts School of Excellence Award, awarded by the National Federation of State High School Associations as part of National Performing Arts Activities Week and National High School Activities Month.

The honor this year goes to Oak Grove High School, marking 2019 as the first time a school in Mississippi has ever received the award.

“We couldn't be more excited about receiving this prestigious award for the success of our performing arts programs,” high school principal Helen Price said. “It is such an honor to have the hard work of our directors and students recognized at the national level.

“It is a privilege to work alongside these dedicated leaders and students, as well as the (Mississippi High School Activities Association) and NFHS. Thank you for your support and encouragement as we seek to make a difference in the lives of students through our activities and the arts at Oak Grove High School.”

Oak Grove High, which

is a Class 6A school with one of the top-performing arts programs in the state, was selected for the award based on its diverse and award-winning performing arts programs. That includes the school’s Speech and Debate team, which has won state championships 12 of the last 14 years, has sent more than 100 qualifiers to national competition, and has won more than 60 individual state titles at MHSAA championships.

In addition, the school’s band recently was recognized as a Program of Excellence by the American School Band of Directors. The marching band – which won a state championship in 2017 – and the concert band both have earned Superior marks, and both bands rank in the Top 10 state bands in their classification.

The marching band’s color guard has received Medalist at the state championships multiple times in recent years, and the indoor percussion team won state championships back-to-back in 2015 and 2016.

The Golden Spirits Dance team has won 11 MHSAA state championship titles in several different categories and has also placed in the Top 20 in the Universal Dance Association National Game Day Competition. The Theater Department has been recognized competitively on the state level, winning state Championships eight years in the past decade - more than any other high school in the Mississippi.

The Theater Department also has been recognized nationally as the winner of the Southeastern Theater Conference in 2008, as well as selected to perform in Edinburgh, Scotland multiple times.

All of the Oak Grove Choirs have been awarded Superior ratings recently and have performed both in and out of Mississippi.

“Oak Grove High School is an award-winning school from academics to athletics to performing arts,” said Tess Smith, superintendent of the Lamar County School District. “When I first heard about them winning the NFHS Performing Arts Award, I was proud that our students and staff would be recognized in this area on a national level.

“When I attend student performances, I am always amazed at the talent our students possess and our staff that aid them in cultivating those talents.”

The award will be presented to Price and other school officials on Oct. 4 by James Weaver, Director of Performing Arts and Sports at the NFHS. The presentation will be made to kick off the NFHS celebration of National High School Activities Month in October and National Performing Arts Activities Week, and a formal presentation will be made before the Oak Grove football game on the field at 6:45 p.m. that day.

“We are extremely honored at Oak Grove High School for being named NFHS Performing Arts School of Excellence,” said Chris McCardle, Athletic/Activities director at Oak Grove High School. “This award is a tremendous accomplishment for the staff and students who put so much time and effort into our performing arts program.

“It also shows what great leadership we have here at Oak Grove, and we are proud of each and every person that has helped to make this award possible.”

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