Students recognized with theater and music awards

KC Yeneza

By Dan Burch and
Dale Johnson
Pagosa Springs High School

The following Pagosa Springs High School (PSHS) students are recognized for contributions to theater and music over the school year. 

2020 PSHS drama awards

Jazz Square Award

The Jazz Square is a term used to describe a classic dance step. This award is presented to honor excellence in dance. The art form of dance offers opportunities to express emotion, evoke feelings or tell a story through movement and expression. 

This year’s recipient has performed in our high school musicals throughout her time here, most recently in “Matilda the Musical,” where she portrayed the character of Lavender. She is a gifted dancer, actor and vocalist. Additionally, she is a kind and patient mentor to those students she works with and a joy to be around. 

The Jazz Square Award goes to KC Yeneza.

Hannah Rockensock

Linchpin Award

A linchpin. It’s kind of a funny word if you don’t know what it is. A “linchpin” is the most important part of a train. It holds the cars together. In a wheel, a linchpin holds the wheel onto the axle. According to Seth Godin, a linchpin is “an individual who can walk into chaos and create order, someone who can invent, connect, create and make things happen.” 

As an actress, Hannah Rockensock does all of these things and more. Whether it’s the morning after a late night of rehearsal or wound up with nerves and a good night’s sleep, whether it’s rehearsal, opening night or closing night, it simply doesn’t matter: When she walks on stage, theater happens. She brings all of her being to the stage and is a catalyst, drawing excellence from the rest of the cast. She is conscious of the art of acting even when she is lost in the character or the story, and is able to stand on the line between art and reality confidently and skillfully. 

Rockensock, thank you for the dedication you have shown in the strangest year of theater, ever. We are looking forward to seeing what amazing things you’ll do next. 

The Linchpin Award goes to Hannah Rockensock.



Megan Foster

Lightmaster Award

The technicians of any production (lovingly referred to as “techies”) are the behind-the-scenes heroes. Coming in late into the rehearsal schedule, they jump into action, embracing the show, working with others, creating lighting design, studying scripts and music, developing special effects and more. They help paint the picture, tell the story and bring the show to life. The lightmaster also works as an ongoing mentor for the new student studying the craft.

Megan Foster has been in the light booth for four years now, creating magic and beauty. She is dearly loved and appreciated.






Grace Thompson

Wicked Good Award

The Wicked Good Award is in a class by itself. If you come from Boston, you were raised on the expression “wicked good.” This year’s recipient is not a stranger to the stage and has in fact been performing in one way or another most of her young life. She has performed in musicals, shows, concerts and plays. She is a natural and gifted performer, with outstanding skills as a dancer, singer and actor. She recently brought her choreography talents to productions. She lights up the stage with her unique, strong stage presence; she has worked very hard on her performance skills and it shows. She is “wicked good” because she shows up, never gives up, is passionate about her work and others, respects her peers and is always trying to be better. She most recently “graced” our stage in “Matilda the Musical,” portraying Mrs. Wormwood.

The Wicked Good Award goes to Grace Thompson.





Jacob Miller

Sprout Award

The Sprout Award is given to a student who is a newcomer to the stage, who bravely and boldly auditions for a show, is cast, enters a completely new and foreign world, and begins to understand the mind of an actor and the environment of the stage.

This year’s recipient embraced the new theater world boldly, eagerly and with a sense of humor. He spent endless hours learning new skills in song, dance and acting. He most recently portrayed the character of Rudolpho in “Matilda the Musical.”

The sprout award goes to Jacob Miller.





Sydney Mitchell

Best Performing Artist Award

Over the years as she has matured, Sydney Mitchell has become an actress who recognizes the art in herself and uses it to bring the audience into the story. Many actors and actresses have talent — and Mitchell has more than most — and many talented actors and actresses are content to rely on that talent. But not Mitchell. She has pushed herself to hone her skills by auditioning for every show available, playing as many parts as she can, and even directing a play with a cast of her peers. She has attended several prestigious acting schools and camps already and is now preparing to push herself even more at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts. Most notable about her, however, is her willingness to support and aid other actors in their own explorations. It is as common to find her helping others hone their skills as it is to find her working on her own. 

Mitchell, for all you have done to make our shows better, for all you have done to challenge us to become better people, thank you. We will miss you, but I know we will be seeing you on the stage.




Drama letters and pins

Drama letters: Hannah Rockensock, Karissa Foster, Jordyn Milioto, Nina Smith, Kaeden Thomas, Carissa McSwain, Caroline Smith, Alyssa Martinez, Alanis Sanchez, Hayden Kiker, Hunter Swinehart, Grace Wiersma and Lexie Valdez.

Drama pins: Sydney (Simon) Mitchell, Cheyenne Todd, Ethan Mazur, Sophia Raymond, Ella Hemenger, Grace Thompson, Maya Nasralla, Olivia Craig, Emma Happ and Megan Foster.

Mark Holladay

2020 PSHS music awards

Louis Armstrong Award

Mark Holladay greatly deserves the Louis Armstrong Award. Holladay is an incredible musician who has added so much to the jazz band throughout his four years in high school. His keyboard skills are exceptional. He can play the complex jazz rhythms and holds down the center of the rhythm section. 






Hayden Kiker

Director’s Award

Hayden Kiker is an exceptional musician who excels as a vocalist, a percussionist and as a violinist. He is always the one to arrive early and haul equipment and then stay around to clean up. He adds to every performing group here at PSHS. 







Ethan Mazur

Musicianship Award

Ethan Mazur has proven his musicianship in so many ways. He is an accomplished pianist, he plays the horn at an All State level, he sings in PSHS choral groups and has delivered astounding lead roles on the theater stage. He is also arranging instrumental and choral music on the side. He is a complete musician in every way. 

All State Band Award

Ethan Mazur has played the horn for only a couple years and yet he auditioned for the All State Band in December and made it into the prestigious All State Concert Band. Unfortunately, the All State Band event was canceled due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

 Choral Award

Grace Thompson has been in all the choral groups at PSHS and has been a key part of all the success of our music department. She has consistently qualified for several choral festivals each year since her sophomore year. Thompson has been a solid leader in all the choral groups she has performed in. She has also given incredible lead role performances on the theater stage all four years.


Skylar Sherman

Most Improved Award

As a freshman, Skylar Sherman came into the jazz band playing the alto sax and quickly rose to a first-chair level. She made great progress this year. We are looking forward to many great things from Sherman. 

Music letters and pins

Honor Choir pins: Grace Thompson, Ella Hemenger, KC Yeneza, Hannah Girardin (with letter), Trenten Albach (with letter), Hayden Kiker (with letter), Chandler Mazur (with letter), Kaeden Thomas (with letter), Olivia Craig (with letter), Karissa Foster (with letter) and Carissa Foster (with letter).

Honor Band pins: Cerenity Keating, Case Harris, Ally Ashbaugh, Emma Happ, Grace Wiersma, Ethan Mazur, Gaby Gallegos, Hannah Girardin, Kelsi Rollins, Caleb Calabaza, Hayden Kiker, Mark Holladay, Lexie Valdez, Jessi Gurule, Makayla Collins (with letter), Skylar Sherman (with letter) and Zach Olson (with letter).

Pep Band pins: Ally Ashbaugh, Hayden Kiker, Case Harris, Mark Holladay, Nina Smith, Hannah Girardin, Zach Olson, Caleb Calabaza, Andre Jones, Ethan Mazur, Skylar Sherman, Chandler Mazur, Alyx Velarde (with letter), Emma Ziminsky (with letter) and Chris James (with letter).



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This story was posted on May 29, 2020.