In a time when uncertainty abounds, the 44th annual National High School Shakespeare Competition was a welcome opportunity for Canyons District students to take a break from all things COVID and regain a sense of normalcy.
They faced new logistical and technical challenges to compete in the competition of more than 100 schools throughout the country, but for CSD’s high schools, the payoff was worth it. “We killed it this year and we cried our little eyes out because of how hard it was to win,” said Corner Canyon High theater teacher Phaedra Atkinson. “We were so happy because of what is going on with the school year. It was one normal thing we could celebrate and just take that win and glorify in something happy and positive.”
The Chargers swept their division at the virtual competition, which normally takes place in Cedar City in October, and features more than 3,000 students. The school won the competition’s first-place sweepstakes award and took first place in the scene and monologue categories, as well as other second place awards.
Hillcrest High School also triumphed, winning their division with the first-place sweepstakes award, first place in the Tech Olympics category and first place in the Ensemble Scene category, as well as other individual awards. Students from both schools will receive college scholarships with their wins. Jordan High’s choir won first place and second place in the Minstrel category for large schools, and took third place in the Tech Olympics category. Alta High student actors won second place in ensemble scenes in their division.
“It was a huge deal,” Hillcrest drama teacher Josh Long said. “Not that winning was a huge deal, but this year, the whole experience was a huge deal for our team. The trophies and wins at the end were really nice and great, but we were just so happy that the kids had such a powerful experience because we were so worried that it wouldn’t happen this year because it was so different.”
While schools traditionally travel to Cedar City for a weekend to participate in the competition, this year, the event pivoted to a virtual format. Each school recorded their entries and then submitted them to professional actors and judges across the country for adjudication.
For Corner Canyon, the challenge was doubled when their school transitioned to online status during the time they would have normally been intensely practicing. This year’s accomplishment was the first time Corner Canyon won first place in a larger division.
“We had two solid days where we could put it together,” Atkinson said. “That’s why we were so happy, we did something. We accomplished something in COVID, and made it happen even though we were all out all over the place. ‘We’re just going to do what we can’ was our whole attitude.”