Two students from Beaumont Magnet Academy are sharing the stage this month, playing the role of Tiny Tim in The Christmas Carol at the Clarence Brown Theater.
These young actors, second grader Penny Peterson and third grader Golden Littlejohn, are no strangers to performing in front of crowds.
“I’ve done a pre-show in my dad’s play, The Little Prince,” Peterson said. “Before the show started, I played in the sand with the character toys.”
Her mother, Amelia, directed this year’s musical at the Clarence Brown Theater, and her father, Joshua, is the Founding Artistic Director for the River & Rail Theatre Company.
Littlejohn has performed in school plays at Beaumont. Most recently, the school presented a show called The Greatest Snowman, a spin-off to the 2017 musical film The Greatest Showman. The year before, he was in the ensemble for The Great Big Holiday Bake Off.
“While I was doing it I was a little nervous,” Littlejohn said of his audition, set up by Beaumont theater teacher Amanda Taylor. “When I’m nervous and singing or doing a monologue, I just go faster.”
Both students were offered the role and began rehearsing in October. The pair take turns starring in the 28 performances that run from November 23 through December 18.
“We have to stay up late for some of them. We have to miss school for some of them,” Peterson said. “My favorite scene I do is the Cratchit scene because that’s Tiny Tim, and that’s the main character I play.”
Outside of performing, the students are active in their school. Littlejohn participated in the school spelling bee and is a Beaumont Ambassador.
“The first person I escorted around the school was the Superintendent,” he said with a proud smile.
Both are thankful for the unique opportunities they have on and off the stage.
“It’s been a really good experience of learning, but also a fun theater experience that not a lot of kids get to do,” Littlejohn said.
Three KCS students’ artwork will be on display at the Tennessee State Museum next year, as part of a statewide competition.
Elementary art teachers from across the state could submit their students’ work for the State of Tennessee Art Review and Showcase (STARS) competition, but only 19 pieces, the top three per grade level and one best of show, were selected. The showcase will be open to the public from January to May.
The KCS honorees are:
1st grader Joyce Hu (3rd place, Farragut Primary, art teacher Ruth Granroth),
3rd grader Leah Powers (3rd place, Powell Elementary, art teacher Jenny Snead), and
4th grader Avery Quilty (3rd place, Pleasant Ridge Elementary, art teacher Genevieve Byrd).
Avery Quilty’s piece, which she named “Ice Cream Spidey,” was nominated by Byrd, who taught the fourth grade class about Henri Matisse, an artist famous for his collages.
“I wanted them to be able to look at his art and see how you can combine different types of shapes,” Byrd said. “I gave them a really, really broad theme. I said, ‘We’re going to combine a creature or animal with food.’”
Quilty sketched four different designs and decided to combine a strawberry ice cream cone with a six-legged spider, which she constructed out of paper and glue.
“This is the first time something really big has happened in my life,” Quilty said.
She plans to travel to Nashville in January for the ribbon presentation and to view her art in a museum for the first time.
The fourth grader hopes to continue growing her artistic skills and one day become an animator.
A Central High School senior has reached a goal many artists with more experience are still striving to accomplish: having their work displayed in a world-class art museum.
Trinity Anthony sent in four pieces to the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, unsure if even one would be selected for the Young Tennessee Artists exhibition.
“I wasn’t sure if anyone liked it,” she said about her piece entitled Internal Transfixation, which was selected for the show. Anthony said that because of COVID, she wasn’t able to get much feedback about the painting before submitting it to the Frist: “I was really surprised when it got in because no one was really able to comment on it.”
The piece is one of her favorites, she said, inspired by a previous traumatic accident that kept her away from her school and friends for half a year. Nearly six years ago, Anthony suffered a severe concussion after a fall.
“I was just stuck in my room for six months with nothing,” Anthony said of her recovery. “I couldn’t watch TV. I couldn’t read because the words just hurt. I had to have lights off all the time.”
It was then, in the darkness of her bedroom, alone, that she picked up drawing.
“I was able to draw things around me,” she said. “That was my only outlet to express myself and how I felt.”
When she was eventually cleared for 15 minutes of screen time per day, she utilized those periods by watching art videos and documentaries of artists to learn their techniques and improve her own skill.
“Once I got through all that, it really just blossomed,” Anthony said. “It’s an obsession.”
She has since had her work displayed in several art shows across her community, including the Knoxville Museum of Art East Tennessee Regional Student Art Exhibit, the Tennessee Valley Fair Art Show, and two Central High School art shows.
The young artist not only excels in her creativity and artistry, but also in academics and extracurriculars.
At Central High School, she is a member of the National Honor Society, was in the Science Club, created the Book Club, is the president of the Art Club, takes AP courses, and is studying for the ACT.
In her community, Anthony is a member of the National Art Honor Society, is on the Knox County Library Teen Advisory Board, completed an internship with The Bottom community center, worked as an apprentice at Beardsley Community Farm, and has been invited to be a part of a new arts collective in Knoxville.
Amanda Cagle, Anthony’s 7th-grade principal at South Doyle Middle School and now an assistant principal at Central, says Anthony “surpassed my thoughts of what you could do at that age.”
When reflecting on her success and growth as a young person, she said, “It feels very surreal, and it feels like an out-of-body experience. But it’s all very exciting.”
Anthony’s work will be displayed in the Frist Museum at the Conte Community Arts Gallery from Sept. 2, 2022 through Feb. 12, 2023.
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