PHARR- The PSJA North Early College High School Theatre Department was awarded a $10,000 NBC R.I.S.E America grant during a surprise announcement on Monday, March 5, 2018. The school is one of only 50 selected from across the nation and the only one in the Rio Grande Valley awarded.

Through R.I.S.E. (Recognizing and Inspiring Student Expression) America, NBC has awarded each of the 50 winning schools with a $10,000 grant that will cover the critical needs of their theatre programs ranging from production expenses to technical equipment and master classes. NBC is facilitating the program in partnership with the Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF), a non-profit organization dedicated to shaping lives through theatre education.

"We're very fortunate to have been selected from over 1,000 applicants," said PSJA North Theatre Director Bryan Honl. "Thank you to NBC and the Educational Theatre Foundation for giving us this opportunity."

According to Honl, funds from the grant will be used to help bring more professional opportunities for students and to assist with the production of the school's annual live Children's Shows.

To qualify for the competitive grant, high schools had to submit a video celebrating their theatre program and a 500-word essay explaining why their school should be awarded the grant and how they will use the $10,000 should they win. They also submitted a letter of recommendation from a school principal or administrator endorsing the application.

"Theater at PSJA has helped us grow us as students and individuals," said Ismael Torres, a senior and one of the students who helped create the video for the application. "We are so excited to get this news. It makes me feel humbled and proud of where I come from."

For PSJA ISD Fine Arts Director Jon Taylor the grant serves as a recognition of the dedication and commitment the district has made to fine arts over the years.

"Congratulations to all the students and directors on a job well done," said Taylor. "This award showcases our district's commitment to providing high quality fine arts experiences in art, music, dance and theater to all students."