LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Passaic Valley High School's Theatre Arts Program finished in impressive spots at the STANJ (The Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey) Governor's Award competition, held at Rutgers University in New Brunswick on Saturday, Jan. 28.

The STANJ group is a voice advocate for the inclusion of speech and theatre arts in the educational curriculum throughout the state.

The high school clinched third place out of 74 entries for dramatic pairs, consisting of students Alex Sanchez and Annie Challice. The high school also grabbed third place out of 56 entires for improvisational pairs, with students Alex Swetlitschnyj and Seda Akman. Additionally, the high school won sixth place out of 27 entries for scene competition for "August: Osage County," presented last fall.

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According to Jennifer Shue, PV theater director, it's the high school's second year participating in this competition.

"Last year we received a seventh place finish for dramatic pairs by Annie Challice and Jenna Perricelli," Shue explained. "Caren Atamian, PV drama teacher, and the students worked together to pick scenes and rehearsed during school and after school to prepare for the event."

Atamian also commented on the placements.

"PV participated in one of the largest drama competitions in this state, the STANJ Governor's Award Competition, and won in three separate categories. It was a wonderful and challenging experience for the students and a great way to showcase their talent. I really enjoyed working with the students. It was a lot of hard work, but worth it. I couldn't be more proud."

The scene competition winner for "August: Osage County," "Dinner Scene" winners were Annie Challice as Violet, Izabella Rivera as Barbara, Juliana Arrabito as Ivy, Jenna Perricelli as Karen, Alex Sanchez as Bill, Lara Mazza-Hilway as Jean, Miguel Maldonado as Steve, Eleni Rotsides as Mattie Fae, Marc Garcia as Charlie, Alex Swetlitschnyj as Little Charles, and Gabriella Volonnino as Johnna.

Challice who plays Violet, commented on her experience.

"My experience at STANJ was great and it was thrilling going home with a big trophy, especially when you into the competition just to have a fun time no matter what the outcome," she said. "I'm very proud of everyone who competed and I'm so glad we got to represent this high school so positively."

 Upcoming performances for Passaic Valley's Theatre Arts Program include:

  • Grease: May 11 to 13
  • In the Heights: July 28 to 30
  •  High School Musical Jr.: Aug. 4 and 5

For more information on the program, visit