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Clearwater student wins Straz star of future award

Two Florida high school students, Tim Hart of Clearwater and Chandler Morehead of Sunrise, have been awarded the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts' Broadway Stars of the Future Award.

The teens vied for the award against numerous competitors to win at the Florida Thespian Festival last month at Tampa's Straz Center, earning the opportunity to compete this June in the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City.

"The Straz Center for the Performing Arts is known for community service and its commitment to helping talented youth strive and thrive in the world of performing arts. Sponsoring this contest and enabling these students to compete in New York is just one way we demonstrate this commitment," said Wendy Leigh, vice president of education at the Straz Center.

Hart, a junior at Palm Harbor University High School, portrayed the baker, a man whose family has been cursed by a witch, from Into The Woods, a Tony Award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim.

He was one of 19 cast members of Wiley and the Hairy Man, a one-act play that earned Palm Harbor University High School's theater department top honors at the Florida Theatre Conference in October 2011. For Hart, then a 10th-grader in the International Baccalaureate program, the biggest challenge of playing the role of Hairy Man was the physical transformation.

"I love to entertain people. I have been performing since the first grade," Hart said in a Pinellas County School Board interview last year. "It is fulfilling for me to be on a stage and make the audience laugh or cry. It is great to see their reaction."

Judging the competition were Straz Center trustee Don Jones, Patel Conservatory Theater Department chair Ami Sallee, Marty Hancock, Patel Conservatory Theater Department manager Christen Petitt, Sandra Cockrell and Broadway performer Quentin Darrington.

Judges believed Hart and Morehead showed the most potential for being successful on Broadway one day and were impressed with the teens' singing, acting and commitment to their characters.

• • •

Donald and Paulette Derr married April 18, 1953, at Dubbs Memorial Evangelical Reformed Church in Allentown, Pa.

The Palm Harbor couple have planned a trip to Disney World to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

When the Derrs first met, 16-year-old Donald was playing a game of pickup basketball on his school's outside court. Paulette, 17 and a recent high school graduate from Daytona Beach, had just moved back to Allentown, where she was born and raised.

A friend of his sister introduced them.

"Donald asked me to go to the movies and we've been together ever since," she chuckled.

He served four years in the Air Force, one of them in Korea. The couple's son was only 3 months old when he was sent overseas.

Once he returned to Allentown, he worked for 28 years for Air Products and Chemicals Inc., and continued to work part time after an early retirement at 55.

She worked in banking from 1969 to 1985 and started as a teller, progressing to assistant manager. Her 12 years with member-owned Germantown Savings Bank were her favorite. "They were so good to employees. The money they earned went back to customers."

Snowbirds since 1993, the couple moved here permanently in 2000.

"Donald's always been physically fit," Paulette said of her husband, who likes to ride his bike, play golf and work out in the gym. "He bought a saxophone many years ago and didn't start taking lessons until he was 55. Now he's playing in jam sessions at the clubhouse."

Paulette is very active at Blue Jay Estates, serving as the park's social club president and Queen Mother of the Red Hat Ladies. She also enjoys playing bingo and cards.

Both are members of First Presbyterian Church of Dunedin.

They have two children, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

• • •

Everyone's seen the orange and white Coast Guard helicopters that patrol the waters off our coast. Not so immediately evident are the auxiliary members who provide valuable support to their operation.

At a meeting at Clearwater Air Station, 15100 Rescue Way, Coast Guard Auxiliary members Jonathan W. Nicholls of New Port Richey and John J. Tassinaro of Dunedin received Coast Guard Auxiliary Achievement Medals for their dedication, leadership and outstanding service to the air station last year.

The medals were presented by Capt. J.G. Turner, commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater.

Nicholls, the assistant auxiliary air coordinator, was recognized for revamping and revitalizing the station's auxiliary air program, resulting in an increase in flight hours, providing support to Coast Guard operations. He also coordinated several critical logistics flights to deliver parts needed for Coast Guard MH-60 helicopters on duty in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos. These missions, using auxiliary aircraft, resulted in a cost savings of $35,000 compared with what standard contract air carriers would have charged.

Tassinaro, assistant auxiliary air coordinator-materiels, was responsible for the station's Garmin GPS program. He programmed GPS units used in C130 aircraft, updated electronic charts and managed the required bi-monthly swap-out of several hundred aircraft publication. He improved the supply system for Auxiliary Air Operations by properly outfitting the auxiliary flight crews with materials and customized charts for specific missions and operating areas. While working in the Flight Services office, he performed needed tasks for Coast Guard aviators who were on flight duty.

Nicholls and Tassinaro volunteered more than 1,600 hours and 1,400 hours respectively last year in support of Air Station Clearwater and the Dunedin Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 11-10.

Mail Good For You items to Nova Beall at 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756; fax to (727) 445-4119; or email nbeall@tampabay.com.

Clearwater student wins Straz star of future award 04/20/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 11:53am]
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