Two of Del Norte's most artistically talented high school-age students have been chosen to attend the 27th session of the California State Summer School for the Arts, one of the nation's leading arts summer schools.
And they just happen to be siblings.
Mariah Wise and her brother, Josiah Wise, both of Gasquet, will be attending CSSSA in the theater category. The summer school will be held July 13 to Aug. 9 at the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) campus in Valencia, Calif.
Josiah and Mariah will be honored at a reception Friday at 5:15 p.m. at the Del Norte Senior Center, 1765 Northcrest Drive.
They will be recognized by local dignitaries and will receive special medallions emblazoned with the state seal.
The reception is sponsored by the Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness with support from the CSSSA Foundation. Those who wish to attend but have not yet received an invitation should contact DNACA, 464-1336.
CSSSA was created by the Legislature in 1985 and held its first session in 1987. Each year, approximately 500 students attend from all over the state; this year, that number was chosen from more than 1,500 applicants.
Since 1987, more than 65 high school-age students from Del Norte County have attended this rigorous, month-long residential training program, having demonstrated outstanding artistic excellence in one of the seven CSSSA disciplines: animation, creative writing, film, dance, music, theater and the visual arts.
Acceptance is earned through a competitive process, which includes the students having to complete a full application, turn in samples of their work, and get written recommendations from teachers.
Josiah, a sophomore, and Mariah, a senior, are both students at Castle Rock, and are the first students from that charter school to be accepted into CSSSA.
Since they reached the age of 11, Mariah and Josiah have been active in community theater productions, especially with Brookings Harbor Community Theater (which does youth productions year-round) and the Chetco Pelican Players.
Both attended its summer drama camp, at which successful actor and former Del Norte resident Andy Alcala was an instructor and encouraged them to apply to CSSSA. Alcala attended in 1989.
Since 2007, Josiah has acted in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Beauty and the Beast," "Magical Pied Piper of Hamelin" (as the Pied Piper), "The Last Gladiator," "Sleeping Beauty and the Beast," LRT's "A Christmas Carol," "Treasure Island," "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" (as Snoopy), "Cupid and Psyche," "The Little Mermaid," "Holy Cannoli," "Alice and Wonderland," (as the March Hare).
If he had to choose, his favorite role was as a servant named Runt in "Cupid and Psyche," a play he felt was the perfect mix between comedy and drama.
"I got to be chased and thrown around a lot," he enthused. What he loves about theater overall is it evokes "lots of adrenaline and excitement" he said, plus "I enjoy becoming a different character."
As for Mariah, "My career goal is to be an actor in the movies, and theater is a great way to apprentice and hone my craft."
Bitten by the acting bug at only 5 years old when she acted in a play at her church, she knew immediately it was what she wanted to do. She has had roles in many of the same productions as Josiah, and also in "Princess Parade" and "Bottom of the Box."
Both she and her brother also landed roles in the movie "Love in the Time of Monsters," which was filmed at Patrick Creek Lodge and is due to be shown locally later this year.
CSSSA is funded by a unique public-private partnership between the school and contributions from the private sector to the California State Summer School Arts Foundation.
It provides a supportive environment staffed with professional artists in which students hone acquired skills, and explore new techniques and ideas for an in-depth arts learning experience and is designed to pave the way for young people hoping to pursue careers in the arts and entertainment industries.
In addition to the college credit offered, the top three students in each discipline as selected by CSSSA faculty are honored with an Emerging Young Artist Scholarship of $40,000 from the Herb Alpert Foundation for collegiate study or preprofessional training programs.
Fourteen additional scholarships of $2,500 are also awarded on an annual basis, and CSSSA students can garner scholarships to other educational institutions such as Otis College of Art and Design, San Francisco Art Institute and the California College of the Arts as a direct result of attending.
For more information about CSSSA, go to www.csssa.ca.gov.