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School may be over at 3 p.m., but that doesn’t mean the Ocean City High School closes its doors. That’s when the after school activities begin. Before I left on vacation, I stopped by the high school one Tuesday night where the joint was jumpin’.
I walked in the Sixth Street entrance and ran into Ed Wisham, who was on his way down the hall to see his 6-year-old son, Eddie, at wrestling practice in one of the smaller gyms. Nine-year-old Anna Wisham joined me as I entered the Hughes Performing Arts Center where the intermediate school was rehearsing “Beauty and the Beast” on stage. Anna wanted to see her friend, Jemma Kraft, who was in the play. I spotted Mark Miedma, who has been directing these plays forever, standing at the stage counting out the beats for a musical number being performed. When I admired the fabulous staircase backdrop, Mark joked about painting it himself last night. Rehearsals got started three weeks late due to Sandy, but Mark felt the cast was ready to shine. I caught up with Gail Ping, Mark’s Girl Friday, arranging trees on stage and keeping cast members quiet and calm in the wings as they waited their entrance on stage. I promised Mark I’d be back when I headed down the hall to the gymnasium to catch the girls basketball game against Middle Township.
Lynn Petrozza was in the ticket booth while Sue Annarelli placed a stamp on everyone’s hand as they passed through the gate.
I convinced Sue I didn’t need a stamp as that is so “high school.” When I opened the first door to the gym, I hit Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Chris Lentz. Behind door No. 2 was primary school nurse Alice Wolf and high school Principal Matt Jamison. Brian Hopely provided police presence at the game. I spotted Chris Mazzitelli and his kids in the stands and young wrestlers Bo and Cutter Schmid, Sam Gold and Louie Williams waved to Alice when they walked by. School Superintendent Kathy Taylor was in the front row along with Councilman Antwan McClellan and school board member Tom Oves.
2010 OCHS graduates Kelsey Boylan and Conner Briggs manned the concession stand outside the gym. Kelsey is a junior at Virginia Tech with international studies as her major. Kelsey has studied in Brazil and is headed for Australia on Feb. 22 for the spring semester. Conner, who took over at the stand for his mom, Nanette Briggs, so she could watch his sister, Oliva, on the court, is a junior at Bucknell majoring in civil engineering and headed for Argentina for three weeks in June to study.
Meanwhile, back in the auditorium, I stopped at the sound and lighting board in the back where Steven Trauger kept an eye on his OCHS students. Junior Shannon Farrell is the lighting director while junior Brianna Cesanek is the board operator for lighting, senior RJ Hoffman is the sound operator and his sister, eighth-grader Allie Hoffman gave the cues. Seniors Aimee Ferenz and Kimberly McMaster handled the spotlights. I stopped to listen to Mae Fluharty as the Beauty Belle sing one of her ballads and was delighted with her vocal range. Local attorney Ellen Byrne, and mother of a cast member, was busy putting the finishing touches on costumes when I stopped to chat with her backstage. This is definitely a labor of love for Ellen, who appeared in plays in high school and college, but prefers to handle the costumes. With daughter Caroline in seventh grade, she plans to be back next year and is looking forward to four more years when Caroline gets to high school. Ellen worked on costumes for the high school’s production of “The Christmas Carol” in December. Sophomore Shannon Wallace, who is Junior Miss Ocean City, was the choreographer for the play.
Eighth-grader Walter Luchay as the Beast kept in character all evening never taking off his mask and headdress throughout the rehearsal. My favorite costume was worn by Payton Ortzman featuring a bubble-shaped, felt body with large colorful flowers and topped off with a large matching hat with flowers. Seventh-grader Victoria Patella has been in plays since the fourth grade and just got a second part in “Beauty” when a cast member dropped out. Victoria is a quick study and already knew her new lines. Emily He, who wants to be a doctor or marine biologist, was a delight to talk to. She told me her parents, Ivy Lai and Kenny He, are the owners of the popular Fai’s Chinese Restaurant in Ocean View and wanted to be sure I mentioned it in my column. This is Theresa Stratton’s second play and she admitted she wants to be a makeup artist while Abbey Kampmeyer, also appearing in her second play, wants to be an actress on television. Travis Waid, whose daughter, Gabrielle, was in the play, was busy painting scenery, a job he has been doing for the past few years for the intermediate school plays. Mark was shouting out directions on stage while Gail and Ellen tried to keep the cast in line as they waited in the wings and I told them to “break a leg” Friday night when they would give their one and only performance for their families and friends.
It was frigid cold outside, but cozy and warm in the Stainton Room at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church for their “Taste of the Shore” gala launching the 2013 “Build on a Shore Foundation” campaign. I met up with Lois and Ralph Werner and Marie Hayes on the way in, then we were greeted by Gayle Robbins at the top of the stairs. Stephanie Sussmeier entertained on the harp throughout the evening. I caught up with Karen Thompson in the buffet line and she told me her dream is to retire in Hawaii. When Bill Crockford’s Buick got totaled in Hurricane Sandy, it was the perfect opportunity for him to get another dream car, a 25-year-old, low-mileage Chrysler LeBaron convertible in maroon with a white top, in mint condition, to join his Model T Ford. I spotted Ann Richardson interviewing Project Access manager Dick Strang on the upcoming renovations planned by St. Peter’s.
Lloyd Hayes joined his wife for dinner when he arrived late after attending the Mainland High School swim meet. I chatted with Mary Mohr, John Bate, Gene Lindacher and Sandy Simpson as they waited in the buffet line. Beth and Charlie Bowman told me granddaughter, Caroline Bowman, turned 17 today, got her driver’s license, and the first person she gave a ride to was her cousin, Sean Bowman. Sandra Roberts said she and Brian will be “empty nesters” in September when son Nathan heads off to college. Beth and Steve Dyjak are delighted with the progress of the renovations on their home following Sandy and when they are completed look forward to a vacation in Florida. Jeff Turner took a turn at the piano during dinner. I caught up with Nancy and Tony Caine enjoying dinner with Taimi and Tim Kelly. After dinner Brian Roberts led everyone into the sanctuary for a video presentation prepared by Steve Trauger.