"Smash" Contest Winners Get Broadway Training

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For the six months after Roschenne Parmalee sent out the application, she would ask everyone she knew to go to the NBC's "Smash" website, and vote for Vandercook Lake High's drama department once a day.

"They were probably pretty annoyed with me by the time we got done, but here's the pay-off!"

A club barely getting by on funding, was only operating because staff members like Parmalee volunteered their time: "It has been a challenge. We did try to get a millage passed about, I think it was eight years ago here, that included an auditorium, but it didn't pass."

When the club found out they won, all the big problems disappeared. They will now get thousands of dollars in funding, plus two teacher stipends, giving them all more hope the club will continue for all future students.

The students received part one of their prize Thursday; their first of several visits from a Broadway acting coach, teaching them moves and values: "It's a real feeling of community which is what theater does," said Cindy Ripley. "It teaches life skills," something students are already picking up on.

For now, the school can only afford to put on one play a year. The students will find out within a week what their spring musical will be.

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