Group photo of acting students with teacher

BALLINGER — Four Coahoma Junior High School students were tapped for special honors at the UIL District 6-3A One-Act Play contest in Ballinger recently. 

Brailee Bennett and Areayanna Loe were named to the All-Star Cast while Iris Gaitan made the All-Star Crew list, and Landri Phernetton was selected for the Honorable Mention Cast. 

Overall, the CJHS One-Act cast and crew received a Good Rating for their performance of “H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds: A Totally Teen Online Theatrical Performance,” by Flip Kobler & Cindy Marcus.

“I was blown away by our performance at the competition. The cast worked hard to make such smooth transitions from an ordinary day to a would be world-wide disaster, all while keeping the energy constantly flowing,” said Katie Valencia, CJHS One-Act Play director and sponsor. “Our judge told us after our performance, it felt like the actors were having a conversation, not just simply waiting for the next person to say their line, but actually listening to each other. The crew added to the show through their use of light and sound effects. They never missed a beat, and it really added to the dynamic of the show and the show’s message.”

The play is inspired by legendary Hollywood director Orson Wells’ 1938 radio broadcast of the classic novel. It begins at Grover’s Mill High School somewhere in the USA during morning video announcements, which are interrupted after a UFO crashes onto the school’s football field.

With a world-wide internet and phone service outage, the characters rely on the school’s closed network to tell the story of the Martian invasion through a series of Zoom calls. 

Amanda, played by Bennett, is described by the script as “an overly curious seeker of truth.” She is the first to report the UFO crash to the morning announcement crew via Zoom and becomes the central character as the play progresses. 

Carly, played by Loe, is the school’s standout student news reporter. Not to be outscooped, Carly takes charge only to discover the incident is more serious than she bargained for when she reaches the football field.

As the aliens begin to advance, the Grover’s Mills High ROTC comes on to the scene as Corporal Lansing, played by Phernetton, announces the area is being placed under martial law.

In addition to earning an overall Good Rating, the CJHS One-Act Play received Excellent Ratings for projection, articulation, costume and make-up. from the UIL judge, who “loved the vocal energy of the actors, strong projection and overall good pacing.” 

Also appearing in the play were: Kolbi Wright as Dawn, Alexandria Daves as Bean, Zylee Lozano as Chester, Allie Hipp as Pierson, and Carlie Melton as Robbins. 

Crew members were: Alyssa Gaitan, Sydney Frech, Koalven Martinez, and Kylee Diffee. Lillian Orosco and Lacie Dugan served as alternates.