Dedicated Thespian and CFF Cappies Scholarship Recipient, Cassidy Lennick, Believes in the Power of Performance

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

Cassidy Lennick

From a young age, Cassidy Lennick has held performing and writing about theatre close to her heart. “Something I love about theatre is that you can make someone happy or smile just by doing what you love,” Cassidy said of her experience onstage.  As the recipient of the 2020 Casey Feldman Foundation Greater Philadelphia Cappies* Scholarship, Cassidy is determined to continue to spread happiness through the power of theatre despite the cancellation of in-person performances —for the show must always go on. 

The Casey Feldman Foundation has been awarding one graduating Cappies participant a scholarship to help further their education since 2011, two years after Casey was killed by a distracted driver. The scholarship was created in honor of Casey’s love for theatre, journalism and the Cappies. The Cappies are an international awards program, much like that of the Tony’s, that recognizes high school theatre and journalism students who possess strong writing, critical thinking, and leadership skills. Like Casey, Cassidy joined the Cappies as an actor and critic where she was able to review different high school performances around Pennsylvania, as well as compete in performances of her own. Her freshman year, Cassidy was granted the award (a Cappie) as Best Ensemble member in Sweeney Todd. 

Cassidy Lennick at the 2019 Cappies Gala wearing her Cappie

According to Dianne Anderson, co-founder of the Casey Feldman Foundation, “Cassidy is clearly passionate about the performing arts and has a stellar academic record. What made her really stand out for us, though, was that despite a clearly hectic schedule, Cassidy took the time to be of service to others. Helping to coordinate a fundraiser for the California Hurricane Foundation, volunteering to teach dance to 3- and 4- year-old children and participating in the performance of a thank you video for frontline workers during this pandemic validated her nominating teacher’s comment that he had never met a more caring, respectful, hard-working, and kind student.”

Now a freshman working towards a BFA in Musical Theatre at Long Island University, Cassidy likes the connection theatre gives her to others during this time of worldwide separation.

During her senior year at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School Center for the Performing and Fine Arts, Cassidy served as Vice President of the International Thespian Honor Society. Her final semester in high school was online due to the pandemic, nevertheless giving her the opportunity to be a part of a virtual performance of “Lean on Me” that was sent out to quarantined residents of old age homes and front-line workers in hospitals. She also initiated  similar virtual projects for the same audience in other organizations.

An avid dancer, Cassidy spends almost 12 hours a week at the dance studio

This passion Cassidy has for making people smile grew during her time on stage in high school. Cassidy became devoted to theatre and dance, acting in a total of nine performances and spending twelve hours a week at the Longwood Performing Arts dance studio. Her favorite role was Ariel in The Tempest. She said, “I really loved getting to delve into Shakespeare while singing and dancing.” 

Whilst spending her time on stage and maintaining a 4.2 GPA, Cassidy held many different leadership positions throughout school organizations, such as Vice President of National Honors Society, Treasurer of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, and Co-President of the National Dance Arts Honor Society. She joked, “a lot of my lunches were spent in meetings.” However, her ability to accomplish so much in a twenty-four hour day was what kept her going. “I like to keep myself busy and am so lucky I can spend time doing what I love,” she said.  Cassidy’s grit, passion, and incredible work ethic are the tools she hopes will one day allow her to live out her dream of being center-stage on Broadway.

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

Abby Hess, CFF Springfield High School Scholarship Recipient, Plans to Be an Impactful Educator

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Abby Hess

By Samantha Matthews*

For Abby Hess, the importance of student-teacher bonds — which made a mark during her own experience at Springfield High School — is something she plans to emulate in her future career. Abby, a recent recipient of the Casey Feldman Foundation Springfield High School Scholarship, recalls her impactful teachers as why she wanted to pursue a career in education, as a thirst for knowledge has always been a big part of her. “Every day after school I would come home, and review my day with my mom,” she said. “I would tell her what I learned and the tests I took. I’ve always had this drive to learn about more things.”

Even though Abby didn’t get to have a traditional graduation and is currently spending her first year attending school remotely due to the pandemic, she couldn’t be more grateful for Springfield High School’s effort to make graduation special, the extra time spent with her family, and the opportunities the future holds.

Now studying English secondary education at the University of Delaware, Abby hopes to one day be the teacher that students come to for everything — from homework questions to life advice. “I want to have a really good over arching presence as a teacher, like the teacher that everyone wants, not just because they have a cute room, but because of who they are as a person,” she said. 

As an educator, Abby plans to use her leadership experience, something she has always stood out for amongst her peers. Abby spent most of her high school career at the Scrivener’s yearbook. At the end of her sophomore year—after serving as the yearbook’s co-editor—the Scrivener’s advisor, Dr. Brett, presented her with a mini version of their yearbook in the form of an ornament and asked her to take on the role of chief editor. 

Abby gladly accepted, and recalls this as being one of the most formative moments during her tenure at the yearbook, and her entire tenure at the publication as something that allowed her to connect with others at the school. “My time at the yearbook helped me become more connected with underclassmen, upperclassmen, and the whole community,” she said. “It also made me learn a little more about different subjects like sports, which definitely wasn’t something that I was accustomed to.”

Beyond her time at the yearbook, Abby has also dedicated her time volunteering with students who have special needs, which taught her things she hopes to put to use in the future as a teacher. “The first couple of years, I partnered with a little boy who had down syndrome and I learned a lot of problem solving from him,” she said. “Also, I found just showing them love was really important. Not necessarily just being there to teach them, but also to be their friend and to show them good intentions.”

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

First Generation College Student Awarded Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Compassion and kindness is something that Kylie Davis strives to exhibit throughout her life.

By Melanie Riehl

First-generation college student Kylie Davis is one of this year’s Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipients. An undergraduate at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU), Kylie works 35 hours per week at 3 different jobs to finance her education and make ends meet. Despite juggling her course work and jobs, Kylie still manages to make the time to  participate in community service — a love of hers that stems from childhood.

Dedication to Community Service Instilled at a Young Age

From a young age, Kylie’s parents instilled generosity and empathy in her, dedicating their family to community service. She volunteered with them at a soup kitchen growing up, especially helping out during the winter months where more people in need would come in search of food and warmth. Kylie strongly values her community and shows her gratitude by giving back, saying, “My tie to my community is one of my many drivers. My parents taught me the importance of compassion and kindness and it is now something I strive to exhibit throughout my life, whether it be in the workplace or in my personal life.”

Service Work at CU

Kylie carried her commitment to giving back with her when she began her college career, taking on a role as a peer mentor as well as being a youth counselor for low-income middle school students. As a peer mentor through the Diverse Scholars Program at CU, Kylie guided freshmen through the trials and tribulations of their first year of college. She also helped organize community-building events as well as made significant efforts to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all at CU. As a youth counselor, she taught middle schoolers basic accounting and finance, seeing herself reflected in the students and hoping to set an example for them to look up to. One of her goals is “to inspire and aid the success of others,” which she excelled at in these roles.

Alternative Spring Break to Teach Earth Science to 5th Graders

Kylie’s philanthropic spirit led her to apply for a Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship, where she was given the opportunity to travel outside of Colorado and engage in service work over her one week off from college in the spring. Kylie’s Alternative Spring Break took her to YMCA Camp Campbell in California where she taught earth science to fifth graders.  She was responsible for not only educating these students, but for establishing an engaging and safe environment for them, as the program is part of a sleep-away camp. She reflected on this experience, saying, “It had an incredible impact on me. Each of the ten kids I looked after really made a long-lasting impact on me.” This opportunity took her passion for mentorship to new heights, and she looks back on it fondly, saying, “Each child I spent the week with had such a unique personality, and it was so rewarding to get to know them.”

It is our privilege to reward students like Kylie with scholarships to follow their passion for community service and take part in a unique opportunity they would not otherwise be able to afford.

[Read about some of our past Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients]

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*Melanie Riehl is a sophomore Communications and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She serves as a Copy Editor on the executive board of Fordham’s student newspaper, The Observer.

A Summer at the Chef Ann Foundation: What One Intern Learned

Friday, September 6th, 2019

For the second year in a row, the Casey Feldman Foundation has sponsored a summer intern at the Chef Ann Foundation. Learn why Ally Roberts chose to be a School Food Reform Intern and what she learned during her stay this summer.

By Allison Roberts, School Food Reform Intern, Summer 2019

Growing up, I remember food made me feel lethargic, bloated, and anything but energized. Following the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I discovered a slew of food allergies and sensitivities that, once I took into account (in conjunction with eating healthier, whole foods), transformed both my physical and mental health. This realization of the stark correlation between physical and mental health fueled my decision to study Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. When I learned about the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) through CU’s Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) program, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to explore the nonprofit world, learn the intricacies of school food, and gain a deeper understanding of the undeniable impact food can have on the minds and bodies of children.

I quickly learned that the school food world is complex, multifaceted, and also a really exciting place for innovation and positive change. Through programs like Get Schools CookingSalad Bars to Schools, and the School Food Institute, CAF sits in a unique niche area of school food reform, with a focus on working with food service directors and staff to implement sustainable changes to their procurement practices, finances, marketing, and more—all to provide kids with access to healthier, scratch-cooked food.

Throughout my role as the School Food Reform Intern, I hoped to challenge myself and learn as much as possible about the nonprofit sector and more specifically the Chef Ann Foundation. With a group of passionate, unyielding, caring, and driven co-workers, it was easy to dive in to projects and help out in any way I could. To highlight a few specific experiences: it was incredibly rewarding to help integrate Spanish subtitles into our current School Food Institute online courses, as this will be a huge step in increasing accessibility for school food workers who speak Spanish. Additionally, my work with the development team on our Real School Food Challenge event not only taught me valuable skills in outreach and event logistics, but showed me the power of generosity and how communal support is integral to deep-seated change. Outside the office, I had the privilege of sitting in on our board meeting at the Google campus, attending a conference on Youth Health Policy and Wellness, learning more about Slow Food, and spreading the word about CAF at the Colorado School Nutrition Association conference.

Without the support of the Casey Feldman Foundation through the CU PIIE program, and the incredible people working at CAF, such a transformative, growth-filled and unique experience would not have been possible. After 12 weeks at the Chef Ann Foundation, the correlation I see between child nutrition, child health, and performance in school has been further solidified. When children eat calorie-dense, yet nutrient-deficient meals, their concentration, grades, and mood are all compromised. It is imperative to have organizations like the Chef Ann Foundation to lay the foundational groundwork for better school food practices. This summer allowed me to see the complexities of school food and both how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Here’s to healthier minds and bodies for children!

Ally Roberts with Casey Feldman Foundation founders Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson at the PIIE recognition dinner in August

My Memorable Internship Experience Made Possible by the Casey Feldman Foundation

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

By Heidi Stimac

For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in working in the nonprofit sector. I love the idea that my professional work could contribute to improving the lives of others but, had no idea how to get my foot in the door. So when I heard about the Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) program at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) my junior year, I was excited to say the least. The PIIE program at CU is a competitive one where students apply to the program, and if accepted, they get matched with a nonprofit or government agency for a summer internship. I learned about the program only a couple of days before the 2018 application deadline and luckily I was accepted and matched up with my first choice organization, the Chef Ann Foundation. All of the organizations with which PIIE students are matched do not have the resources to pay a student intern and funding from the Casey Feldman Foundation enabled me to be paid for my work at this tremendous organization.

The Chef Ann Foundation is a Boulder-based nonprofit that provides schools with tools, resources, and grants that help them provide healthy and scratch-cooked meals to their students. I remember feeling so lucky that I was able to intern at an organization with such an amazing mission, and I have the PIIE program and the Casey Feldman Foundation to thank! During my time at Chef Ann, I got to work events, write blogs, do research, compile data, and so much more. While I am so grateful for the professional skills and tools I learned during my time at Chef Ann, I am even more grateful to have been a part of such an incredible team at the organization.

While the Chef Ann Foundation has national reach with programs in all 50 states, the team is relatively small. We had between 7-9 employees working out of our office at any given time. But while the team was small in numbers, it was big in heart. The folks at Chef Ann worked tirelessly to achieve the mission of the organization. I was consistently inspired by the tenacity of my small group of coworkers. Their ability to think big and commit themselves to the mission was something I doubt I’ll ever forget. Chef Ann Foundation became a family to me. My internship started out as a summer gig through the PIIE program, but as the end of last summer approached I was asked to stay on as a part-time intern during my senior year at CU Boulder.

In my nine months at Chef Ann Foundation, I learned more than I ever thought I would. I came away from my internship their with a deep understanding of the type of professional environment I want to be part of in the future. At Chef Ann, we lifted each other up, encouraged each other, and worked toward a common goal. I could not have asked for more from my summer internship at Chef Ann Foundation.

This fall, I am heading off to King’s College London to pursue a Master’s degree in Emerging Economies and International Development. I’m not sure where this new endeavor will take me professionally, but I know that when I begin the career search, I’ll be looking for an environment like that of the Chef Ann Foundation. I can’t thank the PIIE program and the Casey Feldman Foundation enough for making this experience possible for me!

With the Chef Ann Foundation team on the last day of my internship

 

 

Foundation Scholarship Recipient Caroline King Pursues her Passion At Temple University

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

By Heidi Stimac*

Caroline will be entering her sophomore year at Temple University

Casey Feldman Foundation Springfield High School Scholarship Recipient, Caroline King, wasted no time in her first year at Temple University. Passionate about local news and reporting, Caroline and several other Temple students created a student run news organization on campus called What’s The T, which covers stories on Temple sports, world news, and pop culture. Exclaimed Caroline of her involvement in What’s The T, “It has truly been a great experience!”

Caroline’s experience in the SHS broadcast journalism class inspired her career goals

Caroline will soon be entering her sophomore year where she majors in Media Studies and Communication. She hopes to eventually work for a newspaper or TV station to report on local politics. Caroline believes that our society’s inability to agree on facts has caused a political divide in the United States, and hopes that becoming a reporter on local politics will help bridge the divide.

Caroline’s passion for journalism started at Springfield High School (SHS) and helped earn her the Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship in 2018. During her senior year, she was the co-anchor of The Growl and The Cougar Pause, where she helped broadcast student news and accomplishments.

Caroline also has a passion for helping others which is evident from her additional activities while at SHS. She was on the Cougar Service Team for three years where she spent fifteen hours a week participating in community service work throughout the school district. Caroline was a part of Amnesty International which focuses on human rights violations and pardoning those wrongly accused of human rights violations worldwide.  She was selected to be a Peer Facilitator at SHS where she volunteered her time to mentor and support students who were experiencing difficulties inside and outside of school.

Caroline played soccer all four years at SHS

Caroline also worked with the Steve Stefanie Dance Marathon all four years where she served as captain for two of those years, raising thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer care patients. Caroline hopes to continue to play a role in finding a cure for pediatric cancer. “Throughout my middle and high school career, this cause has been front and center in my mind. I have seen the impact that hard work can have in raising money and awareness to this important research,” Caroline says.

While at SHS, Caroline somehow also found the time for sports. Caroline played junior and varsity soccer all four years, received the Coaches award and was co-captain of the team her senior year. She also participated in junior and varsity indoor track during her last two years of high school.

When asked where Caroline sees herself in twenty years, it’s no surprise that she said she hopes to look back on a world where she helped create positive energy, truth, integrity and drive. Caroline is on a mission to “bring integrity, fairness and facts back to reporting.”

Caroline is a well deserving recipient of the 2018 Casey Feldman Memorial Scholarship. We can’t wait to see the positive change that she will continue to make into the future!

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*Heidi Stimac is a first-year graduate student at King’s College London studying Emerging Economies and International Development. Originally from Chicago, she recently graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in International Affairs and was the recipient of The Casey Feldman Foundation 2018 PIIE Scholarship. She loves writing, pilates, and snuggling with her cat Oliver.

An Exceptional Student, Jason Breslin Receives the Casey Feldman Foundation Springfield High School Scholarship

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

By Heidi Stimac*

The Casey Feldman Foundation is honored to have awarded this year’s Springfield High School (SHS) Scholarship to an outstanding applicant, Jason Breslin. Jason is a leader, an athlete, has been on the honor roll every semester since 7th grade, has a 4.0 GPA and is gifted in physics and math as well as in the performing arts.

Jason has taken 8 honors classes and 8 AP classes, scoring a 5 on the AP exams in U.S. Government & Politics, Calculus, as well as in Physics, with an outstanding score also in English Language & Composition. He has been a been a teacher’s assistant this past year in AP Calculus. In his spare time, Jason likes to challenge himself with physics questions and math puzzles for the “pure joy” of having the eureka moment when he discovers the answers.

Jason enjoys helping other students find the answers as well. “As an active participant in my classes, peers approach me to ask questions or form study groups,” says Jason. “I always do my best to help them get a better grasp of the material or see if I can offer them a new perspective.”

Jason has received the National Spanish Award 2 years in a row and the John Hopkins Book Award. He is a member of the National Honors Society and the National English Honors Society.

Jason is not all academics however. He is also an accomplished swimmer.  He has been on the Springfield Swim Club Team for 12 years and on the SHS Swim Team for all 4 of his high school years, breaking the SHS record last year in the 200-yard free relay at the district meets. He received the Coaches Award last year and served as Captain of the team this past year.  Summers are spent lifeguarding as well as is part time work during the school year.

Somehow, our exceptional recipient has found the time to also make the performing arts a significant part of his high school experience. Jason has been a member of both the Springfield Singers and the Treble Makers ensembles during his time at SHS. He has performed in 6 musicals and 2 plays at SHS, with principal roles including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as Benjamin, Once Upon A Mattress as King Sextimus the Silent, Antigone as Haemon, Seussical as Mr. Mayor, Junie B. Jones as Herb, and Into The Woods as both the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince.

Time yet for more performances? Outside of school, Jason has also performed in 7 musicals with The St. Francis Players. “Every show I participated in has forced me to develop skills for both on and off stage, from stage presence to practical skills like time management so I could keep up with my course load,” says Jason.

Jason’s time management skills and his desire to assist pediatric cancer patients has also led him to be an active participant in the Steve Stefani Dance Marathon at SHS where he served as Captain of the Rules and Regulations Committee this past year.

Jason plans on continuing his involvement with musical theater at Temple University this fall, as well as audition for a cappella groups. He will be majoring in physics and minoring in math with the goal of ultimately pursuing a career as a theoretical physicist. “Doing research in a field I am really passionate about, working on things that no one else might be considering, that is what I want to do,” says Jason. Inspired by a returning alum of SHS who was a physicist, Jason hopes that one day he too will be able to come back to SHS and encourage others to pursue their true passion.

Wow! To simply say that Jason is an impressive young man is an understatement. We couldn’t imagine a more exceptional student to receive the SHS scholarship that bears Casey’s name than Jason.

Congratulations Jason for receiving the 2019 Casey Feldman Foundation Springfield High School Scholarship. We can’t wait to see what your future holds!

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*Heidi Stimac is a first-year graduate student at King’s College London studying Emerging Economies and International Development. Originally from Chicago, she recently graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in International Affairs and was the recipient of The Casey Feldman Foundation 2018 PIIE Scholarship. She loves writing, pilates, and snuggling with her cat Oliver.

 

 

Foundation Cappies Scholarship Recipient Lionel McCulloch is a Star in Theater and his Community

Monday, July 1st, 2019
 

By Dianne Anderson

WOW! Who could have imagined a more outstanding student to receive the 2019 Casey Feldman Foundation Greater Philadelphia Cappies* Scholarship than Lionel McCulloch of the PA Leadership Charter School’s Center for Performing and Fine Arts (CPFA). The Cappies, an international awards program that trains and recognizes high school theatre and journalism students, has 38 participating high schools in the Philadelphia region. Among the multitude of students recommended for the scholarship, Lionel stood out this year as clearly, the most deserving. 

Lionel with Rachel Wilkin in the Teen Challenge production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown ” at the SRP

Involved in all aspects of theater since the age of four, Lionel has also worked to make theater participation accessible to those less fortunate. He has worked as a summer theater camp counselor at the Steel River Playhouse (SRP) in Pottstown, PA for the past four years and took the lead last summer when he learned that the theater did did not have enough money to provide scholarships for students who could not afford to attend summer camp. He spearheaded the Five Day Teen Challenge Project with the help of his theater friends and produced You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. He publicized, costumed, designed, acted in and directed the show all within a one week period, raising over $2,000 in scholarship money.

Lionel is currently engaged in an effort to involve students in theater who have unique learning abilities. He has been working to help organize a new free community theater in Morgantown, PA at a church near his home. His goal is to accept all students regardless of ability and is looking forward to opening the company with productions this summer.

In the last year alone, Lionel has been involved in a dozen productions at his high school, The Baldwin School and the SRP. He has been an actor, director, assistant director, lighting designer and choreographer. He has worked in tech support and sound design and has been a videographer, photographer and playwright. In addition, Lionel has also been an extremely busy Cappies critic, reviewing a multitude of shows and has been published several times.

Lionel performing as Jimmy Powers in the CPFA’s production of “City of Angels”

His two largest roles this past year were as Henry Higgins in Pygmalian and as Sweeney Todd in the musical, Sweeney Todd at the SRP. Other shows just in the last year at the SRP were Annie Jr. (Asst. Director), The Tempest (Ferdinand), You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown Kids (Asst. Director), The Phantom Tollbooth (Tech Support) and Seussical (Camp Counselor/Lighting Design).

He played the role of Frog in A Year with Frog and Toad with the Theater For Young Audiences Touring (TYA) production at the SRP as well, in which 1,000 students were able to see the production for free.

In The Baldwin School’s production of Hairspray, he played the role of Edna, was Sound Design Assistant and involved in the choreography of that show as well, with the choreography team receiving the Philadelphia Independence Award for Creative Leadership. The year before at Baldwin, he played the role of Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing and was nominated for a Cappies award for Outstanding Comedic Actor.  

He performed as Alonzo in The Tempest and Jimmy Powers in City of Angels at CPFA, again receiving a Cappies nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.

Lionel (L) as Sweeney Todd and his brother, Tiernan McCulloch, as Judge in “Sweeney Todd” at the SRP

Also a distinguished playwright,  Lionel’s original musical, Making Bacon (a retelling of The Three Little Pigs featuring a vegan wolf who didn’t want to eat the pigs), was produced by The Vagabond Acting Troupe a few seasons ago. Lionel has collaborated as a playwright on several other produced works including Dracula: A Cautionary Tale for Children, and a musical version of the 12 Dancing Princesses. Lionel’s play Quantum Suicide was 2nd place winner in the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival in 2018. 

WOW is right! Lionel is headed to West Chester University this fall. Do we even need to guess at what he will choose to study?

 

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*The Foundation began awarding a Cappies in 2011, two years after Casey was tragically killed by a distracted driver. Casey was heavily involved in high school theater and became Springfield High School’s (SHS) first lead critic in 2005.  She was nominated for a Cappie herself for best actress at the 2006 Gala for her role as Gwendolyn Pigeon in SHS’s production of “The Odd Couple. Casey accepted the Cappie that year on behalf of the entire Odd Couple cast, which won the Cappie for best play.  In 2010, Casey was awarded an honorary Cappie that was accepted by her parents on her behalf. [Read about our former Cappies scholarship recipients]. 

Lionel in the Teen Challenge production of “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” at the SRP

Foundation Awards Greater Philadelphia Cappies Scholarship

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Xandra Coleman (right) performing in Phoenixville High School’s production of Radium Girls

The Casey Feldman Foundation is proud to have awarded its annual  Cappies Scholarship* to Xandra Coleman from Phoenixville High School! The announcement was made at the annual Greater Philadelphia Cappies Gala, which is a Tonys-like awards show celebrating the end of another successful season of high school theater in the Greater Philadelphia region. In addition to her involvement in theater, writing and a multitude of activities, it was Xandra’s passion for service work that caught the eye of the Foundation in awarding the scholarship that bears Casey’s name.

Xandra was nominated for the Foundation scholarship by Christine Tavani, German and Theatre Arts Teacher at Phoenixville High School in a recommendation which follows:

Xandra is a senior at Phoenixville Area High School. Throughout the last four years, she was completely involved in what the High School had to offer:  Theater Guild, theater productions, marching band, jazz band, National Honors Society, Academic Team, and, of course, Cappies. In the community at large, she worked with the Camphill Community involving adults with mental disabilities and has picked up marathon running.  She has cataloged over 4,000 hours in extracurricular activities and 1,500 hours of volunteer work in addition to holding down a job and maintaining a high academic standard. The plethora of activities certainly permits for a sturdy college resume, but her involvement is not at all about strengthening her biography, but strikes closer to her desire to grow through experience, show compassion for her community, and be committed to bolstering the people around her.

Due to her passion for service work, she has taken advantage of the opportunities to tutor local kids, help run school events, fundraise for charities, and – her personal favorite – develop relationships with the people in the Camphill Community in Kimberton.  The villagers of Camphill can have a wide range of developmental delays from autism to Down’s Syndrome, but each of them has a unique range of skills and a delightful personality. The enriching atmosphere causes Xandra to look forward to volunteering in their sustainable community each summer. However, the service project she is most proud of comes in the form of Suicide Prevention Trainings for youth. In her high school career, she has unfortunately recognized the desperate need for proper suicide prevention training for students. Therefore, in her senior year she made the effort to develop and present trainings to local youth ages twelve to eighteen as part of her senior service project for school.

After three years of dedicated involvement with her school activities, in her senior year she was also chosen for numerous leadership positions including Theater Guild Leader, Band President, National Honors Society Parliamentarian, Marching Band Section Leader, along with Lead Cappie. Xandra strived for these positions not for the status, but for the opportunity to grow and support the organizations she has come love. Many of her classmates have witnessed her tireless work ethic which includes reading textbooks on the bus rides to events, finishing homework in those five minute intervals before a rehearsal starts, and racing back and forth to club meetings. As a result of her efforts, she has been honored in being awarded the National School Marching Award and Student of the Month, winning the Martin Luther King Jr Expressions Contest for her essay, and having her Cappie reviews published.  There is no doubt that she has given her all to the Phoenixville community.

She will be spending this following year living with a host family in Senegal, learning a new language and culture, doing service work in the form of an apprenticeship with a local organization, and earning college credit. She hopes this will foster a matured world view as she pursues a major in international affairs and environmental studies with the hope of a future career with the United Nations. She credits her experiences with the Cappies program for developing her voice as a writer, a voice which will continue to speak as she blogs about her experiences abroad, writes essays for colleges, and, one day, as she represents our country in the global community.

Congratulations Xandra and thank you Christine Tavani for nominating such an outstanding student!

Xandra Coleman working with area youth

Casey’s parents, Dianne Anderson and Joel Feldman, announcing Xandra Coleman as the Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies Scholarship recipient

Casey (red) and the entire cast of Springfield High School’s Odd Couple were among the many memorial photos displayed as the Foundation scholarship was being announced

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*Casey was involved in every high school theater production at Springfield High School (SHS) from her sophomore year through graduation. She was the lead critic from SHS for the Cappies, with reviews published in The Philadelphia Inquirer and as well as in local papers. In 2006 Casey accepted the Cappie award for the entire SHS cast of the Odd Couple which won best play. Casey was also nominated for a Cappie herself for her role in that production as Gwendolyn Pigeon.

View all of the prior Foundation articles on the Cappies and its scholarship recipients.

 

My Alternative Spring Break in New Orleans – A Rewarding and Unforgettable Experience

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

By Tim Inthavong*

My fellow CU volunteers and I while working with Common Ground Relief

There are significant moments that change a person’s life and how they view the world, and my Alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans was an unforgettable experience that I will remember forever. I am truly grateful to the Casey Feldman Foundation for funding my trip with a scholarship stipend which enabled me to volunteer to help a community and environment in need.

At the outset, my fellow volunteer students and I from the University of Colorado Boulder worked with the nonprofit, Common Ground Relief  headquartered in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Founded initially in 2005 to provide disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina, Common Ground has since revised it’s mission to reflect a forward-looking focus to restore and preserve Louisiana’s disappearing coastal wetlands. Wetlands are crucial to prevent flooding since they hold water much like a sponge, helping to keep river waters normal, and slowly releasing water when levels are low. In addition to many other benefits, the wetlands provide a habitat for a diverse group of wildlife.

After being introduced to the environmental issues affecting the Lower Ninth Ward community due to Hurricane Katrina, our group worked at a plant nursery where we watered and removed weeds from bull grasses that would be used to restore the wetlands. My favorite and most rewarding  experience was then actually planting the bull grasses onto the wetland floor.

In the wetlands where we worked to plant bull grasses

At first, I felt uncomfortable and was in fact, very nervous to physically plant them. I worried about the difficulty in moving through all of the thick algae and the uncertainty as to how deep I was swimming. I continued however, and planted the grasses. I felt great satisfaction afterwards in knowing that I had contributed to helping to restore the wetlands and mitigate the effects of a future hurricane on the people of New Orleans. The experience had another strong impact on me as well, in that it served as a learning opportunity.  I realized that it’s okay to be scared in a new and uncomfortable situation and that by proceeding in the face of it, I can conquer that fear.

My group also performed volunteer work at Crevasse 22, an indoor and outdoor art exhibit with an ecological theme.  It sits in a natural area of forests and marshes and contains a deep lake, created by a crevasse, or breach in the levee in 1922.  It is steps away from the Mississippi River and borders St. Bernard State Park. Our work there was to uproot and get rid of  invasive plants damaging the natural habitat of wildlife. This service that was done was the most difficult, but it was extremely rewarding to know that our work was supporting a safe environment for animals to live and grow their population. I thought of Casey Feldman and her love of animals and how my work there was made possible through the Foundation established in her memory. It was deeply gratifying knowing that I was honoring and continuing her legacy.

My Alternative Spring Break trip also afforded me the opportunity to create and build new relationships.  My group and I traveled together in a van for 40 hours round-trip from Boulder, Colorado and lived and worked together the entire week. I did not know any of my fellow volunteers when the trip began, but, by the end of the week, I had 15 close friends  –  David Ruin, Julia Book, Tyler Ennis, Danya Arie, Diantha McAllister, Elise Warnock, Emma Blanken, Feben Kassahun, Hiba Abdali, Jose Canizares, Julia Smith, Maggie Hearn, Marissa Kelly, Mohammed, Pujan Tandukar, Vladimir Brizuela. Without them, the service week would not have been as enriching an experience.

I came into this trip far from my community in Westminster, Colorado not knowing much about the environmental issues facing the people of New Orleans and it’s wildlife habitat. But, by at the end of the week, I had gained so much knowledge about the issues facing the people of Louisiana 12 years after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation.

As I get older and look back at this trip, I can say “I really made in impact on others.”  It makes me smile to know that I made a difference through an experience that I was able to share with others. Above the clouds, I picture Casey Feldman smiling too.

On the site of Crevasse 22 where we worked to remove invasive species

In the forest at Crevasse 22

 

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*Tim Inthavong just completed his junior year at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is studying economics and business and would like to work  for a hospital as a health administrator after graduating. He is one of five children of a single refugee mother whom he has worked to support in and around his studies and volunteer work.