CINCINNATI, Ohio - Hayden Verbanas, a Somerville, NJ High School senior who earned 64 college credits from Raritan Valley Community College while attending high school, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship to continue his theater studies at college this fall by the Educational Theater Association.

Verbanas is one of seven ETA scholarship recipients. All are student members of the International Thespian Society. The others are from Alabama, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Ohio and Texas.

The scholarships are for a variety of areas of theatre and related study including: technical theatre, theatre education, marketing, student achievement, and leadership.

Sign Up for Somerville Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Verbanas was awarded the The Jhon Marshall/International Thespian Officers’ Outstanding Student Achievement Scholarship which is for a graduating senior who exemplifies the ideals of the International Thespian Society. 

Verbanas will attend Wagner University on Staten Island in the fall where he will double major in Theater Performance/Musical Theatre and Arts Administration.

ITS is the honor society of middle and high school students who participate in theatre in their schools. To qualify for induction into ITS, a student needs 100 hours of work in theatre arts. ITS is marking the 90th anniversary of its founding this year with a year-long celebration of the power of theatre to instill confidence, empathy, and compassion to build better communities. ITS is a program of EdTA.

Verbanas has been president of the Somerville High School Troupe #659 for two years and has been a volunteer writer and performer for Students Tackling Ordinary Problems (S.T.O.P.), an educational traveling theatre company. He has also taught music to adults and children with developmental disabilities.

“Theatre and music are not solely about the performer, but about the process of collaboration," Verbanas said. "Whether I was collaborating with fellow volunteers to write a scene about cyber bullying or learning in music class how to combine people’s strengths in a harmonious chord, giving back to my community has shown me the power of performance and the responsibility I have to improve others’ lives,” he added.

Verbanas is one of a select group of Somerville High School students who actually earned a college degree before receiving their high school diplomas.

He graduated Raritan Valley Community College May 19 with an Associate's Degree, and will receive his diploma from SHS this Friday, June 21 during ceremonies at the high school.

As a high school freshman he and 10 other SHS students enrolled in the Somerville Academy of Liberal Arts, a collaborative progam between SHS and Raritan Valley Community College, earning a few credits in his freshman and sophomore years.

He spent half of his school days on the RVCC campus during his junior year and full-time during his senior year.

The program is in its fourth year.