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Awards & Recognition

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: First Place (Daniel Anthony, Opinion Category); Fifth Place (Brendan Jubulis, Sports)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)
Student Keystone Press Awards Honorable Mention (Website)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

Villa Maria Academy Winter Showcase postponed


In past years for the winter season, the MVP department has had a concert, usually consisting of the Villa show choir along with Prep’s percussion ensemble, jazz band, and chorus. The Villa dancers also incorporated a dance into the concert some years, or held their own separate show. However, with COVID cases reaching staggering numbers, the concert may see some conflict this year. 

Initially, there was no plan for a winter concert, Ms. Leuschen said. 

“With it being my first year, and being thrown into this two days before you guys started school, I got kind of piled up with stuff, so I wasn’t even planning on doing a winter one,” she said.

This all changed when Victoria Purchase, senior at Villa Maria Academy, brought it up to Ms. Leuschen. Purchase said that she wanted to continue the tradition the dance program has done since she was a freshman. 

“We haven’t been able to do much of anything performance-wise and I thought Christmas was a great excuse for us to do so,” Victoria said. 

In the beginning, Ms. Leuschenquestioned how she was going to do it. It was very spur-of-the-moment. The students had gotten to her in the middle of November.

“We had little time,” she said. “There [was] only three weeks to get things ready.”

She had been in many productions at the Warner and the studio she works at, so doing the performance wouldn’t be the hard part, but practicing and preparing for it was where she was most worried.

However, the Villa students truly stepped up and took the reigns on the whole operation. The plan was a mini-Nutcracker Performance that Victoria Purchase was in charge of. The interest from Villa students was immense, and many wanted to include their own routines for the concert.

The show “…morphed into just an overall Christmas-cheer themed concert with styles including classical ballet, jazz, and hip hop,” Victoria said.

Hannah Steppic, a freshman at Villa Maria Academy, Anna Skinner and Kaitlyn Bruno, juniors, and Victoria Purchase, and Mallory Phillips, seniors, all choreographed dances for the show. Mallory had worked on the hip-hop routine, Hannah is the lead of the pointe routine, and Victoria, Anna, and Kaitlyn had all worked on the Nutcracker dances. 

Ms. Leuschensaid that she helped a little bit with each but focused on the jazz dance, but she says the show couldn’t have happened without them. 

“They do deserve a huge amount of recognition because they all did it with me on top of everything else that’s going on.” 

However, through all this, they still had to make sacrifices. Ms. Leuschen said that there was a lot of interest from Villa students, including some that weren’t even in her class. However, they had to cut many of them due to various reasons with COVID restrictions.

“We had to jump through a lot of hurdles,” she said.

But she has hopes that those students, especially the seniors can get to perform in the spring concert. She wants to dedicate the school year to the seniors because she understands how hard the year has been. 

While the dancers continue with their routines, the Villa show choir is also included in the showcase, and have had to change their usual performance layout. Villa Senior, Mary Grace Kelly, says that on stage they will be socially distanced properly and will be wearing masks. Mallory Phillips says that practices for the most part have been the same, with most of the practice taking place in class. 

Overall Ms. Leuschen, the dance and choir members are all very excited for the show. 

“We worked hard, they worked extremely hard. I mean, they did most of it, so I was really excited and happy for them,” Ms. Leuschensays. 

Senior Mary Grace said, “I’m super excited for the show! I’m glad that even through the craziness of this year that Prep and Villa are finding the time to show off the hard work of its students!” 

*As of Thursday, Dec. 10, the state of Pennsylvania has suspended all extracurricular activities, thus meaning that the Winter Showcase needs to be postponed for a later date. Mr. Alesso, the Villa show choir teacher, has plans to postpone the choir until the last week of January. Ms. Leuschen wants to exhaust all other options before rescheduling. Further news will be announced as we learn more.

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