The Sun News

Northside drama department basks in honors

Northside High School is used to picking up awards, so it should be no surprise that three individuals involved with the drama department have been honored.

Olivia McMillian, the reigning Miss America’s Outstanding Teen and a senior at Northside High School, was recently named the recipient of a Kovner Fellowship at The Juilliard School. Olivia, who wowed pageant audiences during her competitions with her classically trained voice, will receive the full cost of attendance to Julliard and will major in voice.

Alex Oakley was the recipient of the first Ray Horne Theater Scholarship. Horne, longtime drama director at Northside who passed away last year, left an endowment fund to the school that will fund the scholarship for more than 50 years.

“I am above and beyond honored to be the first ever recipient of the Ray Horne Theater Scholarship at Northside High School. It means so much to have represented Northside and Troupe 2892 in so many different ways over these past four years. Thank you to the Ray Horne Scholarship Board, and thank you to Ray Horne,” Oakley said.

Oakley won numerous honors in drama during his four years at Northside, including The Telegraph’s Golden Eagle Award.

Not to be outdone by his students, Northside High School drama teacher Brian Barnett has been nominated for a Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education.

The nomination, done by the students in Northside High Thespian Troupe 2892, was a total surprise to Barnett and was announced on the last night of Northside’s recent spring musical production.

“They said on stage after the show that they had a special presentation and played the video that was included in the nomination package,” Barnett said. “It was done in secret by the kids, and I was totally surprised.”

The video can be seen on YouTube -- search Brian Barnett Tony Award Video.

This is the first year that the Tonys have included an award for theater education. Barnett has been the drama director at Northside since 2000 and attended the school and participated in drama himself. In 50 years, the school has won 47 regional titles and 19 state titles for one-act competitions, more than any other school in Georgia.

Award finalists will be announced this month, and the winner will receive the inaugural award June 7 during the Tony Awards to be broadcast on CBS.