Senior Art Students Pursuing Arts Education Beyond Mercersburg

Seven Mercersburg Academy graduates—Grace Bennett ’19 (of Mercersburg, Pa.), Anna Mele ’19 (of Hagerstown, Md.), Rose Olsen ’19 (of Denton, Texas), Ella Jane Reinhard ’19 (of Cumberland, Md.), Cherie Sio ’19 (of Beijing, China), Maddie Kennedy ’19 (of Freeport, Bahamas), and Joseph Yonke ’19 (of Pittsburgh, Pa.)—will continue their education this fall by focusing on the arts.
Sio will join the University of Pennsylvania School of the Arts and Sciences, studying art history and cultural studies.
“Cherie continued to prove her dedication in the arts—be it dance, jazz band, or studio,” said
Sydney Caretti, arts faculty. “In her visual work, she successfully pushed herself to understand technical aspects and clear representation while embracing the aesthetic qualities of current and past trends.”
Yonke will study visual arts at Pennsylvania State University.
“Joseph embodies all the components of a living artist—he has courage, strength, and confidence in his application and an already bold emerging voice that deconstructs technical elements, creating concise, dynamic brushwork and weighted passages of volume and texture. And we are only seeing a spark of what will one day soon be a visual explosion,” Caretti said.
Kennedy will study filmmaking at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. Kennedy was one of the founding members of the Mercersburg Film Festival, and was a stage manager and lighting board operator for Mercersburg’s Stony Batter Players. She also created a series of documentary films about her home in the Bahamas for her Commarts Springboard capstone class.
Faculty member Kristen Pixler, who teaches digital video and the Commarts Springboard class, said that Kennedy has had tremendous development over the past two years. “She really blossomed in the past year, proving she has the passion and tenacity to make a successful career in the commercial arts,” Pixler said. “I look forward to hearing where her life and future education take her. It was a pleasure to watch her grow as an artist and person over the past two years.”
Bennett will attend Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., pursuing a BFA in the musical theatre program.
Bennett, daughter of John David Bennett, dean of curricular innovation, and Denise Bennett, special events coordinator at Mercersburg, was a member of Stony Batter Players during her time at the school. 
“Grace is a gifted performer who has worked with joy and diligence to develop her craft; pursuing training by taking all the acting classes she could, enrolling in dance classes, voice lessons, and pre-college study at the University of the Arts, and auditioning for performance opportunities on and off campus,” Laurie Mufson, director of the Burgin Center for the Arts and theatre at Mercersburg, said.
Reinhard, who took voice lessons at Mercersburg in addition to studying dance and theatre, will attend Emory College and study vocal music and business. While at Mercersburg, she participated in two Stony Batter Player musicals and was a four-year member of Magalia, Mercersburg’s female a cappella group, and the dance program.
“Ella Jane is a singer, dancer, and actor who commits herself fully to anything she undertakes,” said Mufson. “She is open to exploring her acting choices and honing her skills to be the best she can be. I have seen her grow tremendously over the four years I have known her.”
Mele, a four-year senior, was involved with dance at Mercersburg, taking all three levels of dance composition and performing in the dance concerts and showcases. This fall, she will attend Dean College in Franklin, Mass., and study dance.
“Dance is in Anna's DNA; she is a true joy to teach—always prepared, smiling, extremely hard working with an eager appetite to learn, and possessing an inexhaustible work ethic,” Denise Dalton, director of dance at Mercersburg, said.
Olsen, who was involved with dance as a Performance Group Activity, also took ballet technique and jazz and performed in the dance concerts and showcases. In addition to dance, she was an athlete, playing softball and wrestling. This fall she will attend the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pa.
"Rose is assertive, organized and driven in her pursuit of excellence in technique,” Dalton said. “She has the ability to hover in the air when she jumps. She is a remarkable technician and possesses a determination necessary for success in this field."
“I'm so proud of the accomplishment of our student artists,” said Mufson. “It is gratifying to see that their work in our arts programs has prepared them to gain admission at competitive college art programs and that they have gained the skills needed to pursue their artistic dreams on the college level that will prepare them for a career in their chosen arts fields.”
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
100 Academy Drive, Mercersburg, PA 17236
GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236