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posted: 6/23/2014 9:26 AM

Wheeling senior receives Calisch Award for the Arts

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  • Celine Dirkes performs in last year's Wheeling High School musical "Legally Blonde" with senior Sam Yoshino.

    Celine Dirkes performs in last year's Wheeling High School musical "Legally Blonde" with senior Sam Yoshino.
    Courtesy District 214

Submitted by District 214

Celine Dirkes, a senior at Wheeling High School, has been chosen from a field of six Northwest Suburban High School District 214 nominees as the 2013-14 Richard W. Calisch Arts Unlimited Award recipient.

The award is given annually to a student with extraordinary abilities in areas of music, art, dance, creative writing, drama, or speech -- a prestigious honor in a school district rich in talent.

A Wheeling resident, Dirkes has been a gift to the Wheeling Fine Arts program since her freshman year.

She is an accomplished actress, musician, dancer, singer, and speech team member. She has appeared in more than 10 school plays/musicals and several other theatrical productions during her high school career. This year she earned the lead role as Ma Joad in the All-state Theater Festival Production of "The Grapes of Wrath."

As acting is a big part of her life, Dirkes has revived the Wheeling Thespian Society and has served as its president since 2012, encouraging other students with her passion. She also assumed major directing responsibility for the 2013 annual arts collaboration show "Fusion" and for the winter play when the school needed a leader.

"The finest thespians own the stage when they perform," said Wheeling's Fine Arts Coordinator Brian Logan. "These actors make us, the audience, forget where we are. They take us to the place the writer intended and beyond. Celine is one of these special performers."

Dirkes also plays the violin in the orchestra, sings in the choir, dances in Orchesis, and writes creatively. She published a 214-page novel titled "Ink Blot" in 2011. She is an honors student and AP Scholar.

The candidates from the other five District 214 schools include the following "honorable mention" seniors:

• Buffalo Grove High School's award-winning musician, singer, and actor Brian McCallister of Buffalo Grove.

• Elk Grove High School's All-State choir member, musician, and break dancer Peter Pendowski of Elk Grove Village.

• John Hersey High School's percussionist, Orchesis and poms member Rino Nozawa of Arlington Heights.

• Prospect High School's state and national speech contender, All-State choir member, actor and artist Josh Arshonsky of Arlington Heights.

• Rolling Meadows High School's award-winning singer, actress, and dancer Sarah Rosenberg of Arlington Heights.