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Student Highlight: Donell Williams

Donell Williams is a junior at Summit High School. Moving in December 2014 to Summit, he took an Intro to Theater class. He credits that experience with opening up a whole new world in terms of developing his talents and confidence. "Mr. Mallette, Mrs. Poyner, and Ms. Arkin have played a critical role in my success, giving me platforms to express myself through music and the arts. They pushed me to do what I never dreamed I could," said Williams.

In addition to keeping up with his studies, Williams is a member of Concert Choir, as well as its Vice President. He performs with Chamber Choir and the SHS Big Band as a vocalist. Williams takes advantage of other opportunities such as Word!, an open mic, and Maroon Room, where he performs both originals and covers.

Recently, Williams began a club with Bella D'Ambrosi called NOTES. They felt that some SHS students wanted to perform at open mics but felt nervous about a larger venue and audience. So the club meets weekly on Tuesdays, and gives students an opportunity to perform in a smaller group setting.

Being part of the Drama Department is important to Williams and he enjoys his Advanced Theater class tremendously. He has been in numerous SHS productions. In Mary Poppins he was a featured singer, Valentine. Williams played the role of Donald in You Can't Take It With You and the role of Tackaberry in How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying. He does not feel the audition process is daunting. "In the Drama Department we all support each other," said Williams. He feels grateful that he has never been in environments where there are negative comments or put-downs. Williams expressed overwhelming gratitude for his friends who continue to give him the confidence to be himself.

Williams feels that one of his biggest strengths is his outgoing nature. He is eager to talk to new people and welcome them. Williams shared, "I love to get out there and experience things... thoughts, beliefs, and cultures. I am most proud of not being a judgmental person." The best advice he has ever received was from his grandfather who said to live the Golden Rule, and treat others how you wish to be treated.

In his bright future, Williams sees college, as education is valued in his family. He hopes to do music, be it helping musicians, or performing himself. Berklee College of Music in Boston is his dream. Music means a lot to him and he wants to be a part of how it evokes emotions in others. It is that passion that drives Williams each and every day. And with his supportive parents, sisters, and extended family, he will no doubt continue to shine.
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