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NeXt News & Notes


Shea’s Performing Arts Center and the Lipke Foundation will present the 23rd annual Kenny Awards ceremony, which will recognize the talent, dedication and efforts of area high school students.

Since the inception of the program, more than 130 outstanding musical productions in local high schools have been recognized and honored

Applications for this year’s Kenny Awards program were accepted in October and reviewed by the panel of Kenny adjudicators. From the applicant pool, 10 schools were selected to participate as finalists in this year’s ceremony. The finalists for the 2016 Kenny Awards are:

Barker High School, “Oklahoma”; Cardinal O’Hara High School, “Anything Goes”; City Honors School, “Gypsy”; Clarence High School, “Young Frankenstein”; Forestville Central School, “Into the Woods”; Fredonia High School, “Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida”; Frontier High School, “The Addams Family”; St. Francis High School, “Jesus Christ Superstar”; Williamsville East High School, “The Wiz”; Wilson Central School, “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

After viewing the productions of all finalists, the Kenny adjudicators will award the top schools and students for their efforts, including “The Kenny” for Outstanding Musical Production, for which the winning school receives a $5,000 grant from the Lipke Foundation to be used by the school’s theater department. Other awards include individual performances in leading and supporting roles, as well as areas of technical production, orchestration, choreography, set design and dance performance. A complete list of nominees can be found online at

The Kenny Awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday in Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. Tickets are $8 presale and $10 at the door, and may be purchased online at, by phone at (800) 745-3000, or in person at Shea’s box office


Ricky Chen of Lockport, a senior at Cardinal O’Hara High School in the Town of Tonawanda, won the grand prize for his painting, “Nourishment,” at the Congressional Art Competition.

Ricky’s painting will be displayed for one year in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol along with other winners from throughout the United States.

Chen is a student in the acrylic art class taught by the Rev. Tom Ribits.

Rep. Brian Higgins presented the award.

Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated. Students submit entries to their representative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.


A team from Hamburg High School showed its grasp of global issues and foreign policy at a national academic competition hosted by the World Affairs Councils of America in Washington, D.C., in April.

Team members Meghan Gorman, Mitchell Beiter, Alexander Kurtz and Matthew Skelly participated in the 14th annual Carlos and Malu Alvarez Academic WorldQuest 2016 National Competition for high school students. They were among 49 high school teams from across the country.

Hamburg’s team earned the trip by winning the Western New York regional tournament.

Students were quizzed on 10 questions in 10 topic areas: Current Events, Great Decisions, NATO, Asia Matters for America, International Trade and Finance, Sultanate of Oman, Privacy in the Digital Age, the Arctic, Food Security, Organization of American States.

As part of the experience, the students also met the ambassador of Oman at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center.


The Cardinal O’Hara High School Song Corps won first place in its category at the Music in the Parks competition at Hershey Park, Hershey, Pa., on April 29. The three-day trip included a judged performance at the Middletown Area Middle School. Performances included “The Clouds,” by Cynthia Gray, “Lightning” by Greg Gilpin and “Chandelier” with soloist Maggie Pezzino, arranged by Kyler McGehee. Music teacher Eric Kenmitzer leads the O’Hara Song Corps.