Musical, acting, and production talents have earned Ava Rowland a trip to this year’s National Fine Arts Festival in Anaheim, Calif.
A 2017 Wellington High School graduate, Rowland placed first at the Ohio District Fine Arts Festival in Dayton for a solo video depicting the events of the Columbine High School shooting. She also received a superior rating in the vocal solo and drama ensemble divisions.
The national festival in Anaheim takes place Aug. 5-12 — plenty of time for Rowland to prepare, she said.
“You can enter the competition with pretty much anything in fine arts like writing, singing, and acting,” she said. “For the solo video, you can tell a story with movements and music but you can’t talk or make any noise. The video was very personal for me.”
Rowland raised money to bring a Rachel’s Challenge assembly to WHS this past school year. The assembly is named after Rachel Scott, a Columbine High School sophomore who was the first person gunned down in the shooting.
“I portray Rachel and one of the shooters in the video,” Rowland said. “I tell her story in the video and then the shooter’s story. Both parts lead up to the end where it shows Rachel getting shot. No costumes were allowed, only black clothes. You have to just portray the story as well as you can.”
Among three state judges, the lowest score her video received was 38 out of 40. Rowland’s youth pastor at Crossroads Christian Center in Oberlin helped her incorporate the original 911 call from the Columbine shooting into the video.
“All the feedback I got was positive with things like the musical selection and transition between characters,” she said. “Having that 911 call really helped out a lot.”
A separate drama ensemble headed by Rowland, called “What it means to be a Christian,” demonstrated various circumstances where religion can be used to deal with grief or anger. That ensemble earned second place in Ohio.
“I wanted to show that it’s not just about going to church or listening to Christian music,” she said. “It’s about actually being kind to people. You have to live it out. One part showed a girl upset she hadn’t been accepted into a college of her choice and the right way to deal with that.”
For her vocal solo, Rowland performed “Alive” by Natalie Grant.
When it comes to music, Rowland has decided to broaden her scope in Nashville, Tenn.
“One of my mom’s friends has been a songwriter down there for about 20 years,” she said. “He wants to work with me for a year or so and then take me to some record labels. We have to meet and discuss some things first like learning about the business and just how to be a professional.”
Rowland, along with every student invited to the National Fine Arts Festival, is responsible for raising $1,300 for expenses.
Donations can be made to her directly or sent to the Crossroads Christian Center, 43824 Rt. 511, Oberlin, OH 44074. If donating by check, be sure to write Ava Rowland/NFAF in the memo field.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.