North Fort Myers High School was second to none at the Barbara B. Mann High School Musical Awards at the Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers last Monday.
The school won six awards, including best overall performance for the fourth consecutive year for their performance of the opera "Miss Saigon."
The musical is based on the Puccini opera "Madame Butterfly" and tells the tale of a tragic romance that takes place between an American G.I. and a Vietnamese bar girl.
Top row: Ryan Strongbridge. Middle row, from left, Michele Whitener, Connie Stead, Cassie Frederick and Ben Lamoureux. Bottom row, from left, Trevor Schmidt, Noelle Aparte and Lisa Hamman.
All of its main actors also either won or took runner-up in their respective categories.
And even with the program's past successes, drama instructor Michele Whitener was still overjoyed.
"Everyone from the other schools were great sports and there's so much talent throughout Lee County," Whitener said. "We performed with them at the morning workshops and you can see a lot of high schools are doing a lot of neat stuff."
Noelle Aparte took home best actress honors, while Trevor Schmidt was named best supporting actor. Ben Lamoureux was runner-up for best actor, while Lisa Hamman took second in the supporting actress category.
For many of the young thespians, the announcement of their victories might as well have happened at the Oscars.
It was especially tough for Aparte, who had bronchitis during the day, then had to sweat out the results that night.
She seemed to forget about all that once her name was called.
"I was holding my friends' hands. When they started to announce the winner, they started grabbing me and I needed something to hold onto," said Aparte, who played the tragic character, Kim, in the musical. "If I ever win an Oscar I might die of a heart attack before I get onstage."
Lamoureux didn't know what category he was in at first, but it didn't matter once his name was called.
"I was excited and it was nice to see all the hard work and preparation by everyone pay off," said Lamoureux, who played the lead character, Chris. "It was a lot of working on my own and looking deep into the character, and the crew always made me look good."
"It was well-deserved by these actors. They've been strong since they were freshmen," Whitener said.
North also won in the tech category, which is an award for what happens behind the scenes, which the school had never won and especially pleased Whitener.
"I believe nothing looks good on stage unless you have qualified people backstage," Whitener said.
"You definitely can't do it without the support. You can have Miss Saigon, but not without the rest of the production crew," Aparte said. "They're not only people who move the set, but mental support,"
Whitener said next year's production will be "Shriek: The Musical."