Scholarship Recipient Continues to Wow Young Audiences While Pursuing an Engineering Degree

Monday, January 11th, 2016
Annina as The Little Mermaid

Annina as The Little Mermaid

By Gail Roth*

The Casey Feldman Foundation is proud of its scholarship recipients and is always happy to follow their continuing successes in academics and social action.  Annina Baker was the recipient of the third annual Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies Scholarship awarded in 2013.  She received the scholarship at the local “Awards Night” for students engaged, like Casey was, in theatrical productions at 39 participating Philadelphia area high schools.  A versatile actress and drama critic in high school, she was nominated for the scholarship by her Upper Merion High School English and drama teacher Laura Ebersole.  Her social action volunteer activity was a “Princess Project” which blended her love of theater with charity as a way to entertain sick and special needs children.

Cinderella meets her fans

Cinderella meets her fans

Annina, is currently a junior Mechanical Engineering student at Villanova University in Villanova, PA. She reports that she continues to play the Little Mermaid and to coordinate events for the Princess Project. Now a Lower Merion community activity Princess Project involves 20 students and alumni of Upper Merion High School who dress as princesses, princes and fairies to perform a specially written musical and dance show for sick and special needs children.  After the show, the performers host a meet and greet with the audiences.

The underwater robot constructed by Annina and her classmates for  the Villanova Battlebot Competition

The underwater robot constructed by Annina and her classmates for the Villanova Battlebot Competition

In addition to her “Project” and her studies, Annina is Student Manager for Villanova’s Marine Advance Technology Education Program.  In that role, she constructs a competition area and obstacles and establishes event logistics for a high school student competition hosted by her school. In addition, she is Vice President of Public Relations and Recruitment for the Villanova Chapter of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, a member of the Society of Women Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and a recipient of a Villanova Blue White Scholarship for 2015-16.

An aspiring Disney “Imagineer” who hopes to design theme park rides and attractions for the Walt Disney Company, Annina is also interested in underwater robotics.  On day she would like to use her engineering background to develop underwater exploration vehicles.

Group Photo - Princess Project

Group Photo – Princess Project


gail roth*Gail Roth is an attorney with Bookspan Family Law in Radnor, PA.  Having also experienced the traumatic loss of a loved one, Gail  focuses her practice on helping clients move through difficult transitions and building happier futures. She is a former colleague of Casey’s father, Joel Feldman.

Casey Feldman Foundation 2013 Cappies Scholarship to Annina Baker; John Gildea Recognized; Springfield High School Wins Best Play

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Annina Baker at the Cappies Gala. Photo Credit: Gavin Baker Photography

This years local “Tony Awards” night for theater students from some 39 participating area high schools – the Greater Philadelphia Cappies Gala – included the third annual Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship which went to Annina Baker of Upper Merion High School.

An added bonus at the Gala came when Casey’s teacher and theater director, John Gildea, was given an award by the Cappies organization for his years  as a theater director at Springfield High School  and his  tireless efforts with the Cappies organization.  In addition, Springfield High School (SHS) won a Cappie for Best Play for their performance of Our Town, a play in which Casey also performed when she was at SHS.

The Cappies honors high school theater and journalism students. The Cappies Gala, which comes at the end of the school year, is an awards ceremony for the schools’ theater productions, in categories ranging from lighting, sound, set, and costume design, to comic actor, dancer, vocalist, and lead actor, to the coveted play and musical awards. Cappies critics, who write reviews of the schools’ shows throughout the year, are also nominated for awards. The presentation of the awards is interspersed throughout the evening at the Gala with performances from the schools nominated for Song, Play, and Musical, who perform selections from their shows. The students enter the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center on a red carpet and are clad in evening gowns and tuxedos.

The Feldman family established the Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies scholarship to honor Casey’s memory, since Casey was heavily involved in theater, journalism and the Cappies while in high school. “I am so pleased that Annina’s English and drama teacher, Laura Ebersole, nominated Annina for our scholarship,” said Joel Feldman, Casey’s father.

A surprised John Gildea from Sringfield High School accepting a Cappie award for his years of service to the theater arts

Annina has starred in musicals and plays at her school and has been a Cappies nominee twice for Comedic Actress in a Play. “On stage, Annina excels at singing, dancing, and acting. Her leading roles in Our Town, Moon Over Buffalo, and Seussical demonstrate Annina’s versatility as an actress,” wrote Laura Ebersole in her nomination. Annina has also been the Cappies lead critic from her high school and has had eight reviews published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Times Herald , leading to a Cappies nomination for Undergraduate Female Critic.

Annina is President of her school’s National Honors Society, participates in her school’s advanced choir, and is also a member of Octagon, her school’s community service club; all while maintaining a 3.95 GPA.

Annina used her senior graduation project requirement to further delve into the arts but also help out those in need. Her “Princess Project” blended together theater and charity to entertain sick or special needs children, sharing her love of the arts with those in need. She also furthers her studies by volunteering as a Historical Interpreter at Valley Forge National Park, and participates in other community service events such as Relay for Life, benefitting the American Cancer Society.

Annina’s  scholarship will aid in her enrollment this fall at Villanova University, where she will be majoring in mechanical engineering.

“I couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient than Annina Baker for the 2013 Cappies scholarship that we established in Casey’s memory,” said Dianne Anderson, Casey Feldman’s mother.

“I am also so thrilled that John Gildea’s hard work and dedication to his students and the theater arts was recognized and that SHS won the Cappie for Best Play.”, added  Dianne. “There is  a special place in my heart for both John Gildea and the Springfield Theater Workshop. With also having the opportunity to meet our scholarship recipient, Annina Baker, I couldn’t think of a better ending to the evening.”

Please contribute to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that additional, deserving students may benefit from scholarships.


Related Links:

Roll out the red carpet for the Cappies awards gala,, May 20, 2013

Eighth annual Great Philadelphia Cappies Gala this Sunday, Delco News Network,  April 28, 2013

The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, Gavin Baker Photography, May 6, 2013

YouTube video –  Opening Performance at 2013 Cappies, Season of Love, from Rent

Meg Boeni Receives Second Annual Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies Scholarship, Casey Feldman Foundation News and Updates, October 2nd, 2012

Chris Price Receives First Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies Scholarship Award,  Casey Feldman Foundation News & Updates, May 17th, 2011

Casey Feldman Awarded an Honory Cappie; SHS Laramie Project Cast Wins Awards at the Cappies, Casey Feldman Foundation News & Updates, June 21st, 2010

  Photos of Casey’s high school performances and the 2006 Cappies

SHS theater family remembers beloved actress, The News of Delaware County, December 16, 2009