By Annie Resnikoff
As the Westfield theater department wraps up its yearly season of performances, two assets to the program, Sam Gruskin and Alexa Derman won Student Achievement Awards at the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Awards on June 3.
Both students were nominated for the WHS production Anyone Can Whistle. Derman was nominated for hair and makeup, and Gruskin was nominated for stage design.
Gruskin and Derman received their nominations from Director Mr. Daniel Devlin, who submitted a portfolio of their respective works to the Rising Star Awards organization. This award was Derman’s second nomination and second win but her first in the student achievement category. For Gruskin, this was her first nomination as well as win at the Rising Star Awards.
Out of the 20 nominations of students in this category, Derman and Gruskin took 2 of the 10 final awards in the selective Student Achievement category.
Derman said, “Not only is it a great honor, but also it was great to be recognized in the student achievement category because it’s really about students working hard, rather than just the result.”
This marks the fifth consecutive year that a WHS stage manager has won this award. Said Gruskin: “It felt great to be recognized for my work in the theater. I’ve spent countless hours working on the shows at WHS, and although the real rewards are the shows themselves, it’s nice to be recognized individually for my work.”
Derman and Gruskin have been involved with the Westfield theater department throughout their high school careers, which according to them strengthened their friendship, making this experience even more special.
Said Derman, “I’ve really seen [Gruskin] grow and become an amazing stage manager over the years, so being nominated next to her is a huge honor.”