DENVILLE, NJ-- This week's Valleyview Middle School spotlight goes to Casey Russo, Class of 2015.

As a standout cast as Annie in Valleyview's production of Annie this past spring, Russo loves the stage. During her sixth grade year, Russo played Michelle in Hairspray and during seventh grade, Russo played Sister Louisa in Sound of Music. To get the role of Annie during her eighth grade year, Russo worked extremely hard. 

"Me and Marissa would look up lines on the computer over the summer. We also looked up songs so we could learn and practice for the roles we wanted to get."

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Russo comes from a family that is very diverse. Dad and brother Ryan are athletes. However, her mom, great grandma, and her aunt have background in TV, dance, and acting. Russo was nervous about her first audition that she had just kind of mentioned it to her family.

"I didn't really tell my family about auditioning for Hairspray. I just kind of said "there's a play at school and I'm going to audition,". Then opening night, the curtain opened and I was dead front and center during the opening number."

Casey also spends a great deal of time practicing her talents. She currently attends Gateway To The Arts in Boonton where she takes tap dance, singing lessons, and ballet. Russo was a shy kid during the sixth grade musical, but she thanks Jenn Faliveno and John Priori, the musical directors, for helping her come out of her shell.

"If it wasn't for musical theater, I wouldn't have come out of my shell."

Russo is not just on stage though, she plays multiple sports as well. She was a member of the Valleyview basketball team, swims for the township of Denville's swim team, plays soccer and travel basketball, and will be trying out for the Morris Knolls High School Field Hockey team.

As for volunteering in the Denville and Valleyview School community, Russo helped tour the incoming sixth graders around Valleyview, was a peer leader, volunteered for Denville Open Nights, handed out candy canes around town during Christmas time, and was a member of Viking Connections, which brings in kids that have a hard time making friends.

Russo also took home two awards at Valleyview's Eighth Grade Awards night, one being the music award, and the other being the Superintendent's Leadership Award. The Superintendent's Leadership Award is voted on by the staff and faculty at Valleyview. The award encompasses community service, friendliness, and involvement in school activities.

Casey will be headed to Morris Knolls in the fall. As nervous as any eighth grader would be, she's looking forward to her classes. With an interesting choice of elective classes, including personal finance, choir, and computers, Russo is most excited about joining the theater program. 

Best of luck  at Morris Knolls.