SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit Performing Arts Resource Committee (SPARC) awarded more than $52,000 to Summit Public Schools performing arts programs during the 2017-18 school year, programs that shined a light on 759 students.

Formed in 1996 by Summit parents who recognized the gap between District funding and the ability to stage successful productions, SPARC promotes the performing arts in the Summit public schools, recognizes student achievements, supporting programming and productions through advocacy, financial support, and educational initiatives.

Among the programs SPARC helps support are school shows at all five Summit elementary schools, Step Team Genesis, Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School Debate, TEDx, Theatre and workshops, and Summit High School Theatre and workshops, Speech and Debate Team, Director's Showcase and Senior Salute and senior student scholarships. For 21 years SPARC has provided opportunities for Summit Public Schools students to develop creativity, imagination, problem-solving, teamwork and communications through movement and vocal expression.  

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This past year, SPARC ambitiously raised more than $10,000 for the high school’s lighting campaign, thanks to an anonymous matching donor. The campaign provided much-needed upgrades to the lighting system used for the fall plays, spring musicals and many other performances.

Another noteworthy grant, in collaboration with the PTO and parents of Jefferson Elementary School, enabled the entire fifth grade to attend a performance of “School of Rock” on Broadway, where a classmate is currently a cast member.

The organization provided a substantial grant to send seven Hilltopper Forensics students to the National Speech & Debate tournament in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where one of them -- Kimberly Lee -- emerged as Summit's first-ever National Champion.

Among the other award-winning programming this past school year was the Summit High School's fall production of Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost," which captured two Montclair Theatre Night Awards, with Erin Manion and Mitchell Sink capturing the 'Best Actress / Classical' and 'Best Actor / Classical' Awards, respectively while the play garnered 10 total Award nominations. The Summit High School spring production of "Legally Blonde" earned five Paper Mill Playhouse Awards nominations and brought home a 'Student Achievement Award' for the Costume Crew, while also earning the 'Educational Impact Award'.

Twelve graduating seniors received SPARC-sponsored scholarships totaling more than $6,600 at the Senior Salute on May 21. These students were heavily involved in various performing arts programs, including theater, forensics, and step team throughout their four years at the high school and many are pursuing the arts in college.

Also recognized were the achievements of 759 students -- across the entire Summit school district -- who were awarded certificates of recognition to all those who participated in the performing arts this year, including the middle school’s TEDx program and high school’s Speech & Debate program, all cast and crew members of each elementary school, middle school and high school’s play and musicals, and all members of the Genesis Step team.

For more information about SPARC and how to get involved, visit sparcsummit.org.