St. Mary’s County, MD – The St. Mary’s County Arts Council recently presented four $1,000 awards to outstanding high school seniors with exceptional talent and dedication to the arts. These scholarships aim to recognize, encourage, and support individuals who have demonstrated excellence and a deep interest in the Performing, Theater, or Visual Arts. This year’s recipients are Eliza Eschenbrenner, Katelyn Freese, Matthew Hayden, and Lily O’Neill.

Credit: St. Mary’s County Arts Council

Eliza Eschenbrenner, a graduate of Chopticon High School, was honored in the Performing Arts category. With a passion for theater arts since 4th grade, Eliza has actively participated in various theatrical productions throughout high school. Notably, she played the lead role of Cady Heron in the Mean Girls production at Chopticon High School. Additionally, Eliza was a Peace Pipers and Triple Threat Performance troupe member and took part in the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) program. Alongside her theatrical endeavors, Eliza has demonstrated a strong commitment to community service, having served at a youth summer camp and assisted children aged seven to ten.

From St. Mary’s Ryken High School, Katelyn Freese was recognized in the Visual Arts category. Katelyn has actively participated in her school’s Visual Arts Scholar program, allowing her to focus on honing her artistic skills. She served as President of the SMR National Arts Honor Society. She organized two successful in-house exhibits at the St. Mary’s County Arts Council Gallery, showcasing the work of Honor Society students. Furthermore, Katelyn collaborated on a multi-year graphic design project starting in 10th grade. Her ambition is to establish herself as a creative, motivated, confident, and reliable artist.

In the Performing Arts category, Matthew Hayden, also from St. Mary’s Ryken High School, was awarded the scholarship. Matthew’s musical journey began at an early age when he started playing the drums at three years old. Recalling listening to Metallica in his father’s car, Matthew developed a deep appreciation for various music genres such as metal, rock, country, go-go, and jazz. Under the guidance of Sheila Klotz from the SoMar Drummers, Matthew delved deeper into drumming and percussion, realizing his profound love for these artistic expressions. Matthew actively contributed to the SMR Fine Arts Department throughout high school, particularly in the Concert and Jazz bands. He served as the President of the Concert Band during his senior year and held the esteemed position of Percussion Section Leader.

Lily O’Neill, a talented artist from Chopticon High School, received the scholarship in the Visual Arts category. Engaged in the Academy of Visual & Performing Arts (AVPA) program and a National Arts Honor Society member, Lily has showcased her artistic abilities in various ways. Notably, she participated in a collaborative mural project to celebrate diversity. Lily’s love for art extends beyond her high school curriculum, as she also attends ceramic classes at the College of Southern Maryland. In addition, she has actively contributed to Chopticon’s Theatre Arts program, assuming roles such as Head of Props and Set Painting while also being a member of the International Thespian Society.

These exceptional young artists have demonstrated their artistic prowess and expressed the importance of their craft in their lives. Eliza Eschenbrenner believes that humility, kindness, and community outreach will drive her to greater heights. Katelyn Freese aspires to be recognized as creative, motivated, confident, and dependable. Matthew Hayden finds immense beauty and meaning in music, which inspires him. For Lily O’Neill, creating art is a passion and a means of expressing emotions and turning them into something beautiful.

The St. Mary’s County Arts Council congratulates all scholarship recipients for their outstanding achievements. For information about future scholarship opportunities, please visit their website. These scholarships provide financial support and serve as a testament to the importance of fostering artistic talent and nurturing the next generation of artists in St. Mary’s County.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply