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September 1, 2020

Laguna Beach Unified School District Theatre Students Recognized by National Youth Arts

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. - Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School theatre students have garnered two awards and nine nominations in the 15th Annual National Youth Arts Awards for the 2019-2020 season. 

National Youth Arts (NYA) is a national organization that promotes and recognizes outstanding work by youth in the arts, as well as the adults who contribute to youth productions, both onstage and off.  This year's award winners were selected from nominations by a panel of more than 50 judges and reviewers. The NYA adjudicators attend performances or review footage and nominate students for recognition.  

Laguna Beach High School class of 2020 alumna Zoë Waters earned an award for lead performance in a musical as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. 

“I want to thank the National Youth Arts Awards for this great honor! I am truly humbled and grateful for this award and the fantastic organization behind it,” said Waters. “I’d like to thank Ms. Celena DelPizzo-Howell for her insightful direction, Ms. Sabrina Harper for her exciting choreography, Ms. Roxanna Ward for her magnificent vocal direction, and Ms. Alexis Karol for her never-ending support and encouragement,” she concluded. 

In addition to the award, LBHS students earned five additional nominations for: 

Lead Performance in a Musical

  • Chloe Bryan as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors in Concert
  • Joe Hovanesian as Seymour Krelborn in Little Shop of Horrors in Concert 

Lead Performance in a Play

  • Charlie Besso as George in Our Town
  • Mark Dressler as The Stage Manager in Our Town
  • Zoë Waters as Emily in Our Town

Currently a freshman at Laguna Beach High School, Naomi Castellon received an award in the junior division for her supporting performance as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods Jr. at Thurston Middle School. 

“I'm completely humbled and excited to receive the National Youth Arts Award. It was such an extraordinary experience to work on Into the Woods,” said Castellon. 

In addition to the award, Thurston Middle School students earned four additional nominations for: 

Lead Performance (Junior Division): 

  • Ayla Keller as Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods Jr.
  • Brooke Lattin as Cinderella in Into the Woods Jr.
  • Noah Neufeld as Baker in Into the Woods Jr.

Supporting Performance (Junior Division):

  • Nathan Sitea as Jack in Into the Woods Jr.

To see the full list of winners and nominations for this ceremony, click on

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