‘Music Man’ draws top marks from Hennepin Theatre Trust program

Posted on January 11, 2018

Many audience members called Burnsville High School Theatre Guild’s fall production of “The Music Man” outstanding, but it was also the official rating of the show according to Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Education program.

Spotlight Education is a program by Hennepin Theatre Trust in Minneapolis that honors and supports high school theater students in 94 high schools throughout Minnesota, including Burnsville High School. This is BHS’s first year being part of the program.

BHS theater Director Amy Stead praised both the program and the theater students.

“I was wonderfully surprised and proud that ‘Music Man’ received an outstanding mark from Spotlight,” she said. “The one thing I am very pleased about is that they sent two experts out to our final dress rehearsal, and they gave very detailed and constructive notes to the cast and crew.”

Along with the production’s overall “Outstanding” rating, BHS seniors Maddie Stuart and Daniel Akah received “Outstanding” ratings for their performances as Marian Paroo and Harold Hill, respectively. Senior Sofia Versalles-Duffert also received an “Outstanding” rating in her role as Eulalie Shinn.

In technical roles, BHS senior and production stage manager Shealyn McMahon received an “Outstanding” rating for her work, as did senior and lighting designer Greg Johnson and senior and sound designer Thomas Dang.

Because the production earned an “Outstanding” mark, the entire cast will be performing a 4 minute medley at the Spotlight Showcase in June at the Orpheum.  In addition, the individuals who earned “Outstanding” and “Honorable Mention” ratings will also perform in an opening number with other Spotlight school outstanding and honorable mention recipients.

Not only did the students receive professional critiques, but they have also participated in several other real-world opportunities this year, including attending a Broadway show, “Aladdin,” at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. Students had the opportunity to arrive early and meet with the show’s stage manager and running crew, ask questions, and watch as the professionals conducted sound and stage checks.

On Jan. 20, a group of technical crew students in the theater guild will take a master class at the Orpheum Theatre about technical roles. Later this spring, the entire guild will take a class with Broadway performers about how to audition for shows.

The theater guild plans to work with Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Education program in future theatrical productions in the coming years.

“Our experience with Hennepin Theatre Trust has been wonderful this year. We are excited to hear what feedback they will have for “Mary Poppins” and our future shows,” Stead said.

Learn more about the Hennepin Theatre Trust Spotlight Education program at  

List of awards received by Burnsville High School Theatre Guild:

Overall Production: Outstanding

Overall Performance: Honorable Mention

Achievement in Musical Theater: Honorable Mention

Ensemble Performance: Honorable Mention

Vocal Performance by an Ensemble: Honorable Mention

Movement/Dance Performance by an Ensemble: Outstanding

Student Orchestra: Outstanding

Overall Technical Team: Outstanding

Costume Crew: Outstanding

Technical Crew: Outstanding

Light & Sound Board Operators: Outstanding

Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role: Daniel Akah as Harold Hill and Maddie Stuart as Marian Paroo

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role: Sofia Versalles-Duffert as Eulalie Shinn

Honorable Mention for Performance in a Supporting Role: Andre Finney as Olin, Jon Butler as Jacey, Maxwell Taylor as Ewart and Sam Schuneman as Oliver

Outstanding in Technical Leadership: Stage Manager Shealyn McMahon, Sound Designer Thomas Dang and Lighting Designer Greg Johnson

Honorable Mention in Technical Leadership: Gavin Oliveras as Deck Captain, Aviva Leverty as Hair/Makeup Designer, Jayde Grass as Costumer and Mikayla Moss/Elianna Panos as Prop Designers.

Evaluator Shout Out*: Will Alvey and Isaac Nelson

*Shout Outs are a new new distinction to give recognition to students who caught the attention of the evaluators. It is not an honor that results in a performance in Showcase, but rather just another way that the evaluators can recognize all performers that are doing stand out work.



Posted in Student Success, Arts | Tagged theater, bhs, Hennepin Theatre Trust, Spotlight, the music man, amy stead, theatre guild

Burnsville High School junior aces the ACT in first attempt

Posted on January 11, 2018

Burnsville High School junior Will Trussell has earned quite the distinction for himself. He received a perfect score of 36 on the ACT exam, an accomplishment that less than 0.1 percent of students nationwide obtain.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam consisting of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36. The composite score is the average of the four test scores.

What’s even more astonishing is that Will took the test just one time and didn’t really prepare for it.

“I figured I would take it and see how I did. If I didn’t do well, I knew I could always take it again,” he said. “After taking the test, I felt like I did well but had guessed on some questions. I thought I maybe got a 30 to 33 on it.”

When test results became available online, he had to reload the page three or four times before he believed the score. “I was in disbelief!” said Will. Since he was at school, he texted his mom to tell her the news. Will said, “She wanted me to call her right away, but I had to get to class!”

“Will is extremely motivated,” said Kristina Aars, American history teacher at Burnsville. “He is naturally, extremely intelligent, but he also works very hard. In AP/CIS American History, he completes the voluminous readings in advance, every time."

At Burnsville High School, Will is involved in quiz bowl and math league. He’s also in the marching band and theater pit band.

“Being on the Quiz Bowl team and involved in math league definitely helped with taking the test," he said. "I’m used to working under pressure and within time constraints while trying to remember theorems and formulas.”     

Will joked at the notion that he has now set the bar high for his five younger brothers, which include a set of twins in ninth grade and a set of triplets in sixth grade at Metcalf Middle School. His parents are Patrick and Jeanne, who are Burnsville High School graduates with deep family roots in the Burnsville community.

Will eventually plans on applying to the University of Minnesota and is interested in studying engineering.

Posted in Academics, Achievement, Student Success | Tagged bhs, william trussell, perfect score, ACT, quiz bowl, math league, college-ready, engineering

Burnsville High School DECA students shine bright at districts

Posted on January 11, 2018

Thirty Burnsville High School students are moving on to the state DECA competition after participating at a district-level event in St. Paul on Jan. 5.

DECA is a leadership program that provides real-world experiences to prepare students for careers in finance, entrepreneurship, hospitality, marketing and management. Students in DECA-related classes, such as Introduction to Business and Marketing, Professional Sales and Marketing, and DECA Seminar, also have the opportunity to participate in competitive events that focus on demonstrating the skills they’ve learned.

At district competitions, students have the opportunity to build confidence as they are pitted against their peers in presenting skills in specific categories, including a Minnesota state event, role play event and written event.

Only top finishers from each event advance to state competition, and nearly half of Burnsville DECA students who competed earned the right to advance.

Burnsville had several students who presented in more than one event. Four students – junior Tatum Frey and seniors Ryan Horrocks, Makaela Kallstrom and Kaylee Martynow – qualified for state in all three events.

Other students who qualified for state are:

Sam Bardwell, Ryan Blackwood, Kirsten Buckner, Sebastian Cerda, Jake Chudecke, Ariana Driscoll-Cherland, Daniel Habiger, Ian Harpell, Emma Hovde, Zach Huseby, Brianna Kirk,  Kent Le-Vu, Christine Maina, Elizabeth McCormick, Grace Milhaupt, Jackson Morris, Marshall Norring, Kwesi Nyame, Matthew Nguyen, Samantha Panos, Joslyn Reuter, Victor Sanchez, Mahlet Sinke, Daniel Torres and Anthony Tran.

“I am really excited we have students from ninth through 12th grade qualifying for state this year,” said Meggan Malone, business teacher and DECA advisor. “It takes a lot of guts for these students to go outside of their comfort zone, and I am impressed with the number of students at Burnsville who are willing to take a risk and want to prepare for their future.”

The 2018 Minnesota DECA State Career Development Conference will be held March 4-6 in Minneapolis.

Posted in Academics, Achievement, Student Success | Tagged bhs, DECA, district, state, competition, hospitality, business management, leadership, entrepreneurship, marketing

'Class Acts' celebrates 30th anniversary with performances in District 191

Posted on January 10, 2018

For the past 30 years, teachers have presented Class Acts, a comedy variety show, to raise scholarships for graduating seniors in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191.

As a result, a total of $365,000 has been presented so far to students at Burnsville High School and Burnsville Alternative High School to help pay for college and further educational goals.

“We’re very excited to be celebrating this milestone year of 30,” said Jennifer Gandrud, a teacher at Vista View who co-chairs the program with Lucretia Jeffers, a teacher at Metcalf Middle School. “It’s an entertaining program for a very worthy cause. Join us!”

This year’s show, dubbed “30 Years of Class Acts: It took Us This Long to Get This Good” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 8-10 with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Feb. 10. All performances will be in the Mraz Center at Burnsville High School, 600 E. Highway 13.

Staff members will sing, play instruments, act in skits, tell jokes and dance. There will be a basket raffle again this year.

Tickets are $7 and available 30 minutes before each show.

Posted in Community, Parents, Arts | Tagged class acts, teachers, scholarships, arts

'La Kermes' festival of Spanish culture is Jan. 19

Posted on January 9, 2018

Join the Vista View community for "La Kermes," a festival of Spanish culture on Friday, Jan. 19 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

There will be free entertainment, food and beverages available for purchase, and fun for the entire family! Proceeds will benefit the Vista View Parent Teacher Organization.

Únase a nuestra comunidad Vista View para un festival de la cultura Hispana. Viernes 19 de Enero 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

¡Entretenimiento gratis! Alimentos y bebidas disponibles para comprar. Diversión para toda la familia! 

Procede en beneficio de Vista View PTO.

Posted in Community | Tagged la kermes, culture, festival, vista view, Spanish culture

‘Explore’ District 191 middle schools at upcoming events

Posted on January 8, 2018

Parents of future middle school students are invited to attend an upcoming "Explore Middle School" event at any of the three middle schools in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191.

These events will provide opportunities for parent and students to learn how the district's middle schools help students explore their academic interests in a supportive environment. Every middle school in District 191 is a STEA³M school with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, plus Arts, AVID and Advanced Learning.

Activities will include tours, demonstrations, a brief presentation, student panel and more.

Families may go to any of the three events, but are encouraged to go to the school their child is most likely to attend.

  • Nicollet Middle School, 400 E. 134th St., Burnsville - Thursday, Jan. 18, 6 p.m.
  • Eagle Ridge Middle School, 13955 Glendale Road, Savage - Monday, Jan. 29, 6 p.m.
  • Metcalf Middle School, 2250 Diffley Road, Burnsville - Thursday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.

Learn more about District 191 middle schools at

Posted in Parents | Tagged STEA3M Middle Schools, middle schools, explore night, nicollet, metcalf, eagle ridge

College presentation slated for Jan. 18

Posted on January 8, 2018

The Burnsville High School Counseling Department will have three brief presentations on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Commons. Each presentation will cover a specific topic, including NCAA Division I or II athletics, financial planning and junior-to-senior year timeline.

All school counselors and other support staff who work closely with the counseling department will be on hand to help answer any questions parents or students have about these issues. 

If you have any questions about the meeting, please contact the School Counseling Department at 952-707-2108. 

Posted in Academics, Athletics | Tagged bhs, college planning, NCAA, school counseling department

MSBA to honor District 191 Board member Currier

Posted on January 5, 2018

Dr. DeeDee Currier, who serves on the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 Board of Education, is receiving the President’s Award from the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) at its annual conference in January.

The award is presented to board members who have attended 300 hours or more of MSBA training programs. Currier will be one of only 14 school board members to earn the MSBA President’s Award in 2018.  

“Study after study shows that a well-trained school board is more effective in raising student achievement,” said MSBA Executive Director Kirk Schneidawind. “These board members receiving the President’s Award show their dedication to making sure all of their students succeed.”

Currier was first elected to the District 191 Board of Education in 2008 and has been re-elected to four-year terms in 2012 and 2016.

Posted in Achievement | Tagged awards, DeeDee Currier, school board

Evening of One Acts slated for Jan. 19-20

Posted on January 2, 2018

Burnsville High School will be hosting an Evening of One Acts at 6:30 p.m. on Jan 19-20 in the Mraz Center for the Performing Arts, located at 600 E. Highway 13.

Tickets will be available at the door for $5, and there will be both high school and junior high performances each night.

There will be three high school performances, two of which will be directed by teachers Amy Stead and Marie Hansen. Hansen will be directing "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" by Tennesse Williams, which is the one-act play that will be entered into the South Suburban Conference One Act Festival on Jan. 13. Stead will be directing "Seussification of Romeo and Juliet" by Peter Bloedel. A third performance will be a student-created, one-act play called "Open House," advised by teacher Mark Hubbard and written by students Ryan Horrocks, Tessa Lattery, Cameron Warren, Emma Wavrunek and Eyakem Yilma.

The following is the list of middle school shows:

  • "Bookends" (Written and directed by Steve Orth, Metcalf Middle School)
  • "Tongue Twisted" (Written by Cynthia Davies and Steven Fendrich and directed by Anne Bakken, Nicollet Middle School)
  • "The Trial of Goldilocks" (Written by Joseph Robinette and directed by Jacquelyn Parkinson, Eagle Ridge Middle School)

Each year the Minnesota State High School League hosts a competition for One Act plays. Each submitting entry to the competition features up to eight players in a 30-minute act, with supporting help from student technicians.

Preliminary competition starts January with the state competition slated for February. 

For additional information regarding the One Act plays, visit the BHS Theatre Guild and Minnesota State High School League sites.


Posted in Parents, Arts | Tagged bhs, One Act plays, theatre guild, SSC one act festival

BHS senior selected for full ride at Northwestern University

Posted on January 2, 2018

Senior Justin Jasperse wanted to go to college after graduating from Burnsville High School but he wasn’t sure how that was going to happen.

Then he heard about scholarships offered through QuestBridge, which connects the nation's brightest students from low-income backgrounds with colleges and universities. By facilitating these exchanges, QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation's best universities and the ranks of national leadership itself, according to the organization’s website

Justin received a full-ride scholarship, valued at $300,000 or more, to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill, in fall 2018. He said the school is a good fit for him. It has a familiar midwestern feel, yet is near Chicago, the third largest city in the country. “I didn’t want to separate from my community,” he said. “I want to stay connected.” Justin, who lives with his parents Rose and Jean Paul Jasperse and his grandmother Milagros, is very proud of his Filipino heritage.

Unlike many of his friends who are interested in STEM careers, Justin is drawn to history, philosophy and political science. He said that a Human Geography Advanced Placement (AP) class he took as a 9th grader at Metcalf Junior High was influential and so were history classes at Burnsville High School. Justin is fascinated by events that shape our current world. He envisions a future career as a lawyer, diplomat or other related field.  

Justin has taken many AP, College in the Schools (CIS) and Honors courses. He’s involved with the Firefly Credit Union branch at Burnsville High School, working as a finance education representative for eight hours a week and also serving on its advisory board. He’s a leader with the academic Quiz Bowl team, which he joined after a friend talked him into trying it his sophomore year. “I loved it right away,” said Justin, who now serves as captain. “It’s an incentive to hold on to knowledge and bring it everywhere.”

“Justin’s intellectual curiosity is unparalleled,” according to his social studies teacher Kristina Aars. “Some of my favorite teaching moments this year came when Justin asked some deeper questions about the information we were covering that week. His curiosity led us to grapple with some tough questions, which expanded the learning for all of us.”

She said that Justin's zest for learning complements his innate intelligence, making him an individual who really has no limits, in terms of what he can achieve in life. Aars said, “I look forward to seeing what his future holds.”

Posted in Academics, Achievement, Student Success | Tagged bhs, justin jasperse, STEM, scholarship, northwestern university, questbridge