Pine Island High School receives $10,000 for theater department - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Pine Island High School receives $10,000 for theater department thanks to NBC show

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Pine Island theater students taking a group picture to send to NBC Pine Island theater students taking a group picture to send to NBC
Kate Laack making the big announcement during a Monday morning assembly Kate Laack making the big announcement during a Monday morning assembly
"Rise" premieres next Tuesday, March 13, on NBC "Rise" premieres next Tuesday, March 13, on NBC
Kate Laack is Pine Island High School's theater director Kate Laack is Pine Island High School's theater director
Students watching a congratulatory video from the cast of the NBC show "Rise" Students watching a congratulatory video from the cast of the NBC show "Rise"
PINE ISLAND, Minn. (KTTC) -

The spotlight is on Pine Island High School after it receives $10,000 for its theater program.     

The money is part of NBC's "R.I.S.E. America" grant program. The $10,000 grant comes one week before the premiere of the new NBC drama "Rise," which is about a high school theater program and the impact it has on the community.

More than 1,000 schools applied for the half a million dollar grant. Only 50 were chosen; the money was split evenly between them.   

Pine Island was the only school in Minnesota selected. "We're really really fortunate," said Kate Laack, the theater director at Pine Island High School.

Laack made the big announcement Monday morning at a school assembly in the auditorium. "It needed to be a well kept secret." She found out the school had won the $10,000 grant from NBC more than a week ago. 

She first found out about the "R.I.S.E. America" grant after receiving an email near the end of January. She had three weeks to put an application together. When all the necessary elements were together, she sent the application in around early-to-mid February.

In order to win the grant money, Laack, along with theater students, had to submit a video celebrating the theater program, write a 500-word essay on why they should be chosen, and give an explanation of how they would use the money.

"We applied for the R.I.S.E. grant kind of on a moon shot -- just a hope and a prayer."

She kept the big news a secret from the rest of the Pine Island staff, as she had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with NBC.

"[We] wanted to [announce it] in a big way and make sure kids in the program got some recognition, because theater's not always a pep assembly kind of sport... [there's] not that kind of pomp and circumstance for it."

Theater students were elated upon hearing the news. "Us being theater kids, we have the spotlight, but we don't have the spotlight in school a lot because everything's about the sports," said Pine Island freshman Olivia Trempe. "Now, to have people talking about us and what we're doing is a pretty cool thing."

Laack plans to use the money to add a second production to the 2018 to 2019 school year. A production of 'The Giver' will be held in the fall, while the musical 'James and the Giant Peach' will take place in March 2019. "The average cost of running a theater program in the United States is $9,600, which is where NBC came up with that number of $10,000. So it will fully fund those two productions," she said.

"We get to do so much more with our passions and that's a huge deal," added Trempe.

"Rise" premiers next Tuesday, March 13, at 9 p.m. on KTTC.

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