NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – While signings for sports happen all the time, Bethel College admissions staff recently celebrated an unusual one, for double performance awards.
Abby Christensen, Gardner, signed for the 2013-14 academic year, accepting performance awards in two areas, music and theater.
Professors William Eash, music, and John McCabe-Juhnke, communication arts (also director of theater), announced that Christensen will be part of vocal and instrumental ensembles as well as dramatic productions at Bethel next school year.
She has been extensively involved in the theater program at Gardener-Edgerton High School, as well as in the surrounding community, most recently playing the role of Susan in the TallGrass Theatre Company’s Gardner production of Narnia.
In addition to on-stage roles, Christensen has experience working on the shift crew, in special effects and as a makeup artist.
“[Abby’s] depth of performance experience will be a tremendous asset for the Bethel College theater department, which values talent, initiative and leadership in those who populate the stage,” McCabe-Juhnke said. “In both her dramatic monologue and her musical theater selection [for her award auditions], she demonstrated a depth of emotion, clarity of expression and complexity of character seldom seen in a pre-college performer.”
Christensen has also thrived in the music programs at Gardner-Edgerton, where she plays violin in the symphony and chamber orchestra and has sung in the concert choir, Trailblazers and Treble Choir as well as the Treble Jazz and Blueblazers ensembles.
This spring, she took four selections to the regional solo and ensemble contest. She performed two of the four again at the Kansas State High School Activities Association State Music Festival.
“We are very pleased to have Abby involved in the music department at Bethel College,” Eash said. “Her engaging personality coupled with her musical skills will make her a fine addition to the history of music excellence here. We are excited to have her join our musical family.”
“I am extremely excited to join Bethel's music and theater program,” Christensen said, “because I get to meet people who share the same deep passion for performing as I do.”
While Bethel regularly gives performance awards, admissions staff acknowledge that actual signings for fine arts programs are not common.
“We see [a signing] as a way to recognize the talents of a prospective student involved in fine arts programs and her desire to continue participating at the collegiate level,” said Todd Moore, vice president for admissions.
Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.