The new school year is beginning in fine fashion for Huntington High School seniors Julien Rentsch and Abby Semelsberger. The two gifted performers are among only 20 recipients of the Long Island Arts Alliance’s 2019 Award of Merit.
Mr. Rentsch is being honored for his remarkable talents as a musician and composer while Ms. Semelsberger is being recognized in theater as one of the top actresses and vocalists in stage musical productions.
“Both Julien and Abby have excelled in the classroom and shined on stage,” Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “Exceptionally talented, extraordinarily hard-working and genuine role models; they have certainly earned this honor and recognition. It has been a pleasure for me to witness their growth and achievements through the years, and this is just the beginning for them.”
The LI Arts Alliance’s Scholar Artist program recognizes students who excel academically and in the areas of either music, visual arts, dance, theater, or media arts. For more than a decade, the initiative has recognized students judged to be “the best of the best” on Long Island in both academics and in the arts.
“Abby and Julien are two incredibly talented individuals and it comes as no surprise that they have received this honor,” Principal Brenden Cusack said. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching them grow and perform over the years and I could not be more proud of these two fine ambassadors of the Huntington performing arts.”
Ms. Semelsberger is considering Temple University, University of Michigan, Baldwin Wallace University, Point Park University, Ithaca College, SUNY College at Cortland, Pace University, Penn State University, Elon University, Montclair State University and a handful of other schools.
The teenager’s senior year classes will include AP Placement Government and Politics, AP Research, Physics Spanish V Honors, Chamber Choir and an internship with music teacher Victoria Garbarino and the concert choir.
Ms. Semelsberger has worked closely with Ms. Garbarino and English teacher and drama club faculty advisor Michael Schwendemann.
“I am so incredibly excited to receive this honor and I’m so grateful to Mr. Schwendemann for nominating me,” said Ms. Semelsberger after learning she had been named an award recipient.
The Huntington teenagers will be recognized during a kick-off event on Wednesday, September 11 at the Tilles Center at LIU Post in Brookville when the Class of 2020 LI Arts Alliance Scholar Artists and Award of Merit honorees will be introduced to the media. A gala honoring the group will be held next spring.
Mr. Rentsch is considering colleges with programs that feature a combination of esteemed academics and top music programs. “I want to focus on music, but also take classes in other fields and possibly double major.”
The teenager’s senior year schedule will include classes in Advanced Placement Calculus BC, AP Micro/Macro Economics, AP Physics, AP English Language and Composition, French, Orchestra and an internship with high school music teacher Jason Giachetti during which Mr. Rentsch will focus on composing music.
“I feel honored to have won this award and to be part of a district that values the arts so much,” Mr. Rentsch said.
This marks the LI Arts Alliance’s Scholar Artist program’s thirteenth year. Schools are limited to only one nomination in each of five categories: music, visual arts, dance and theater and media arts.
“I would like to congratulate both Abby and Julien on their recognition as being two of the top scholar artists on Long Island,” said Eric Reynolds, Huntington UFSD director of fine and performing arts. “The mastery of their crafts and versatility they possess are just a couple of the reasons they are award recipients. Abby has proved herself on stage in a variety of genres, including classical voice, musical theater and dramatic arts. She works hard to promote the arts in the high school and is an integral part of the culture of the music department. Julien excels, whether on the piano, composing music, on the soccer field or in the classroom. He balances a variety of different activities and interests with ease and has shared his talents with all in the school community thus making the high school and Huntington a better place.”