present the heart of the art

John Millea from Minnesota State High School league was able to present the ‘Heart of the Arts” award to Karen Pfarr Anderson for the Waseca High School theater department’s rendition of “Booby Trap.” (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

“Booby Trap,” a play from the Waseca Junior Senior High School theater department, dedicated to local fallen veteran Caleb Erickson, received a national award.

Friday, May 17, the theater department was presented with the “Heart of the Arts Award” by John Millea from Minnesota State High School League. The department was selected as the 2019 Section 5 recipient of the national high school award given by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Theater Director Karen Pfarr Anderson accepted the award from Millea and was able to share a few words with the crowd.

“We are humbled and grateful for your (Millea’s) kind words,” Pfarr Anderson said. “We would be remiss if we didn’t thank our activities director Joe Hedervare, (Principal Jeanne) Swanson, (Superintendent) Tom Lee and (Assistant Principal Jason) Miller. Thank you to the military community for the fundraiser efforts; thank you so much for what you do for the community on a daily basis. Thank you to the school community and the greater community. Biggest thank you to the (Erickson family).”

karen pfarr anderson

Karen Pfarr Anderson is the Waseca High school theater director and had many to thank when the program was awarded the "Heart of the Arts" award. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News) 

After her speech, the crowd gave Pfarr Anderson, the Erickson family and the cast and crew of “Booby Trap” a standing ovation.

“It was such a great moment and what an honor for John Milea to come down and present that award,” cast member Chloe Armendariz said.

The department and students received the award for their production of “Booby Trap,” which detailed the story of Erickson, a Waseca High School graduate and a United States Marine Corps member, who was killed in service.

The play was a story of an American soldier in a far-off combat zone, trapped in place by a landmine. “Booby Trap” has been performed by school groups all across the country, but Waseca was able to give a personal touch to its performance.

“I thought it was fantastic,” Armendariz said. “I’m so happy that, first of all, the Erickson family was so supportive of us and being able to recognize Caleb for his service and what he did for our country and not only that but at the home performance and being able to raise that money for Caleb and his foundation. Then being able to be recognized on a national level for that, that’s so incredible and I’m so happy that I was a part of that play.”

booby trap pfarr photo

Waseca’s theater department performed “Booby Trap” for the one-act play competition last year, dedicating it to Caleb Erickson, a Wasecan who joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was killed in Afghanistan in 2014. This production is now being honored with a national award. From left, front row: Brynja Riehm, Chloe Armendariz, Paige Sutton; back row: Karen Pfarr Anderson, Alison Dufault, Garrett Natysin, Patrick Leigh, Rue Sticha, Elijah Ayers, Grace Mens, Barry Erickson, Abril Mendoza, Lillian Pagel, Karla Madden, Sawyer Macht, Ian Knoll. (Photo courtesy of Karen Pfarr Anderson)

She added, “It had a major impact on all of our lives and just kind of made us appreciate everything that people do for us in the Army, military, Marines, whatever they are, just being able to do it for Caleb and for our town to be recognized like that is incredible.”

The nomination for this award came from the Minnesota State High School League, specifically its media specialist, Millea. He had heard about the production through local news coverage and interviewed the cast and crew last winter. Millea then ran the story on “John’s Journal,” which is his publishing platform via the MSHSL website.

“The Waseca one-act play performance exemplifies what the Heart of the Arts Award is all about,” Millea said in an email. “The cast and crew performed the play, but went many steps beyond to form strong bonds with Caleb’s family and make them part of the team. And using the play to raise money for veterans in need and raise awareness of veterans issues was simply outstanding.”

award booby trap

Part of the cast and crew were able to join Karen Pfarr Anderson when the “Heart of the Arts” award was presented Friday, May 17. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

When the other members of the MSHSL met this winter to discuss nominations and awards in general, Millea brought up Waseca’s production of “Booby Trap” and the fundraising efforts. They all agreed to move forward with the nomination, which Millea wrote and submitted to the NFHS.

This is the sixth year the Heart of the Arts Award has been awarded. It was created to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities.

“It (the award) kind of sheds the light on (the fact that) we are such a well rounded school, too. We do well in sports, and in fine arts, we really do a great job, so it’s a really great representation for our community, too,” Armendariz said.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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