Pirates, 'Twin 2' and Hook — oh my!

Cary Ashby • Mar 25, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Some of the leaders involved in the Norwalk High School musicals each have received the Tom Phillips Memorial Scholarship.

The recipients of the $1,000 scholarship are: Hannah Barnes (daughter of Chris and Lyndsey), Bella Blaney (niece of Paul and Kathy Annarino), Logan Hurst (son of Greg and Amy), Chase Kluding (son of Andy and Crystal) and Macy Miller (daughter of Wes and Kristin).

“Four of them were in (musicals) all four years,” said Robyn Rogers, who has been the head director for the NHS musicals for nine years and been involved for 12.

In this year’s “Peter Pan,” Barnes and Miller played pirate girls. Blaney portrayed “Twin 2” of the Lost Boys. Kluding was a pirate named Mullins while Hurst channeled his inner bad guy as Hook. 

Of the 19 seniors in the cast, 13 applied for the scholarship. Each applicant must write about three to six skills he or she has developed while involved in the musicals that can be used in college and life.

“All of them are leaders,” Rogers said. “They have been such a special class — so many leaders among them.”

In its eighth year currently, the Tom Phillips Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to 21 NHS students. Kristina Mason was first recipient in 2011.

“They must be Norwalk High School seniors who have participated in the musical program at some point,” Rogers said.

The scholarship is named for the late Thomas Henry Phillips, of Norwalk, who died June 13, 2011 at age 57. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. A 1971 Edison High School graduate, Phillips taught math at Monroeville High School.

“He was very involved in theater,” said Rogers, whose mentor is Phillips’ wife of 29 years, Carol.

Phillips co-directed some of the NHS musicals. He sang in the Norwalk First United Methodist Church choir, also played handbells and played guitar for the praise band. Phillips announced for the Norwalk marching band and some of the Truckers’ football games.

The scholarship in his name is presented by his family after the final show of each musical.

“Tom was an amazing man and made a positive impact on every person who heard his deep, calming voice or saw his dazzling smile,” according to a tribute in the program for “Peter Pan.”

Phillips worked as the general manager of Towne & Country Players for 14 1/2 years. He was a volunteer and donor until his death in 2011. 

“Tom also worked side by side with his wife Carol, directing many musical productions on our stage here at the Ernsthausen (Performing Arts Center). Tom was a man of strong faith and (had) a great love for music. His positive attitude and reassurance certainly improved every situation. The chosen recipients of this scholarship embody these traits,” according to the tribute.

His wife was the head musical director for six years (2004-2009) and has been serving as music director for four. Before retiring, Carol Phillips taught for 36 years, 24 of those as the Norwalk City Schools elementary music specialist.

Rogers remembers Tom Phillips fondly.

“You don’t find people better than Tom Phillips,” she said.

To make a donation, make your check payable to “Norwalk High School” with a note for the “Tom Phillips Memorial Scholarship.”


Recipients of the Tom Phillips Memorial Scholarship:

2018: Hannah Barnes, Bella Blaney, Logan Hurst, Chase Kluding, Macy Miller

2017: Maxwell Berry, Brandi Braker, Kaitlyn Gilson

2016: Madison Bement, Gregg Berry, Lauren Steffanni

2015: Megan Casselberry, Jelena Cervelli, Brandon Fries

2014: Tim Duncan, Jake Gilson, Emmalea Linder

2013: Billie Radcliffe, Stacia Schaffer

2012: Abbey Lesch

2011: Kristina Mason

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