Sierra Wakefield, 2022 Scholarship Recipient
Sierra Wakefield is the 2022 recipient of the Friends of Gwen Scholarship. Having participated in theatre throughout her four years of high school Sierra acted, directed, stage managed, and worked on crews for numerous shows. In addition to her participation in theatre at SDHS, Sierra also participated in productions of the Ocean Pines Players Children’s Theater. Add competitive cheerleading and swim team to her list of activities. “I have chosen to pursue theatre for the impact it has made to my life,” Sierra wrote. Sierra is a freshman at Salisbury University, performing recently in their production of “Fun Home.”
Following the Sunday matinee of “Fun Home,” I had a chance to congratulate Sierra on her performance. As a member of a strong cast in a challenging contemporary musical, “Fun Home” offered Sierra an opportunity to demonstrate her considerable abilities as a performer. Gratifying in the extreme to see an alumnus of Stephen Decatur tackle such a difficult role as a freshman, it also makes me look forward to where Sierra’s work and study at SU will take her in the future.
Gavin Conner, 2021 Scholarship Recipient
Gavin Conner is an avid theatre performer and designer, having taken part in many productions during his years at Stephen
Decatur High School. Gavin has been an active member of the SDHS Theatre program since participating in summer camps while in the 7th grade. Once a student at Decatur, his work included both performing and set design.
Gavin also worked with the Clear Space Theatre Company in lower Delaware for a period of six years. He performed in countless mainstage and youth productions. He would like to thank Mr. Cater, Mrs. Lehman, and the Friends of Gwen Foundation for their support of his artistic endeavors as he heads off to Wagner College.
Devon Ross, 2020 Scholarship Recipient
Devon experienced an unusual senior year as the Covid-19 pandemic surged across our nation. He was able to participate in his senior Annual Children’s Theatre production but all other shows were canceled for the 2019-2020 school year. Fortunately for Devon, he has had many performance opportunities throughout his school years. Devon participated in the MTASC@SDHS every year from the 4th through the 8th grade, all the years he was age-eligible. Once arriving at the high school, he became a devoted and conscientious member of the theatre program. He could always be relied on the assist with any task and to give stellar performances. There was never any question that Devon would be a deserving candidate for the Friends of Gwen Scholarship. He will be attending Salisbury University in the Fall to study theatre and music.
Corrine Krasner, 2019 Scholarship Recipient
Corrine Krasner is one of only 12 students accepted into the Musical Theatre program at James Madison University for the Fall of 2019. An accomplished performer with a beautiful voice, Corinne is interested both acting and directing. Eager to begin her training at the university level, Corinne could hardly contain her excitement when receiving her acceptance from JMU.
Kate Carpenter, 2018 Scholarship Recipient
Kate Carpenter is a freshman at Salisbury University and has already been cast in her first show. She will be studying theatre and visual arts.
Frankie Nanna, 2018 Book Award
Frankie Nanna is studying at the Frost School of Music at the University of Florida. Frost School of Music is considered the “Juillard” for jazz musicians. Frankie’s focus is on jazz piano performance.
Rodney Murray, 2017 Recipient
The second recipient of The Friends of Gwen Freeman Lehman is Rodney Murray. Rodney is a freshman at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in the theatre track. His primary interest is in directing, but he is also interested in scriptwriting, acting, and the production process. As a junior in high school, Rodney was accepted into a summer program at U of Arts. That experience solidified for Rodney his interest in pursuing theatre as his life’s work. He is very excited to be in Philadelphia at the University of the Arts.
Actively involved from his sophomore year in the theatre program at SDHS, he enrolled in Introduction to Theatre and Theatre Production. He appeared in several children’s theatres, including playing the title role in “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” He also appeared in the annual adaptations of Shakespearean plays. As a student, he directed fellow students in several one-acts.
Sammi Schachter, 2016 Recipient
The first recipient of The Friends of Gwen Freeman Lehman Foundation Scholarship is Samantha (Sammi) Schachter. Sammi is a freshman at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Sammi was a student of Mrs. Lehman’s in Introduction to Theatre and Theatre Production. She participated in many productions, including the annual children’s theatre and the annual Shakespeare Under the Stars. One of her strongest performances was in Thornton Wilder’s The Long Christmas Dinner. During her senior year she played Juliet in a production of Romeo and Juliet directed by the new drama instructor Mr. Brandon Cater.
The following is a portion of a letter Mrs. Lehman received from Sammi at the beginning of her first year of college.
Portions of a a letter from Sammi Schacter, first recipient of The Friends of Gwen Freeman Lehman Scholarship
. . . My schedule consists of an intermediate French class, a history class regarding the effects of place and landscape on identity in the Middle East, and my theatre components.
Twice a week I have an Actor’s Workshop with Erica Newhouse. In that class, we’ve started working on monologues, sense memory work, and some movement. Erica went to Sarah Lawrence for her under-graduate, and then went to graduate school at Juilliard. She wants to take us to the Bronx Zoo, so we can observe the animals and work on exploring different aspects of movement.
My other two theatre components each meet once a week. I’m in a Stage Management class taught by Greta Minsky, who has worked professionally as a stage manager on several Broadway productions. The first semester of the class is focused on training and understanding all the roles of a stage manager, but the spring semester doesn’t meet for classes. In the spring, we will be working as stage managers for on campus productions, and meeting with a mentor to track our progress.
My last class is Breathing Coordination and Building a Vocal Technique taught by Sterling Swann. He is teaching us to breathe properly through our diaphragm and how to posture ourselves in order to improve our vocal strength for performance. My professors are all very encouraging and give lots of individual attention to my strengths and weaknesses as a performer.
We had general auditions for the fall season . . . I auditioned for three shows using the Chekov monologue from Ivanov that I submitted as one of my monologues for your scholarship. I received one callback, and I was one of the two first-year students called back for . . .”The Internet is a Myth.” It is about all the cliches of the internet, and how reliant society has become on the internet to think for them. I thought the subject definitely sounded like something you would like! Unfortunately, I did not make it in the final cast (of five actors playing 20 characters each), but I was very pleased with the process and the fact that I had even decided to audition. I’m . . . working with several on campus organizations including the SLC Musical Theatre Collective . . .
I’m so happy in the liberal arts environment at SLC, it has really opened my eyes to many social issues . . . I cannot thank you enough for choosing me as the first recipient of the Friends of Lehman scholarship award. It means so much to me, and I promise I will do everything I can to ensure that I’m getting the most out of my Sarah Lawrence education and New York’s opportunities to explore artistic works.
Thank you so much again!