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NFHS celebrates all things Celtic
Students savor opportunity
Celtic WEB 1
Entertainers perform an Irish dance Saturday during “Celtic Celebration” at North Forsyth High. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Clad in a green checkered kilt, John Wayne Creech greeted guests with an Irish accent.

The North Forsyth High sophomore was one of several students who participated in the school’s “Celtic Celebration” variety show.

The event, which ran Thursday through Sunday, featured Celtic dance, drama and music.

“It’s a new type of experience,” Creech said Saturday. “We’ve learned a lot.”

Creech said group members studied their own origins and he learned “a majority of our last names are actually Irish or Scottish,” he said.

Mary Hayes Ernst was the teacher behind the variety show. Because Ernst is an avid fan of all things Celtic, her students were honored to be selected for the project.

“She has to have a lot of trust in us, or she wouldn’t trust us with her favorite [customs],” said George Kantelis, a sophomore.

Kantelis said most high school productions are set in the U.S., which is part of the reason he was excited to be in the event’s production of “Brigadoon,” which features the Scottish Highlands.

“We haven’t done anything this far away before,” Kantelis said. “We learned a year and a half of Irish dancing in a month. No one does that.”

The show had a cast of more than 70, including 52 dancers. What made the Celtic celebration unique is it welcomed performers from outside the North High community.

Some of Ernst’s competitive dancers from outside classes also took part in the show, as did the high school’s orchestra, and students from Cumming Elementary and North Forsyth Middle schools.

There was also assistance from parents, who helped run the decorated Irish village in the lobby prior to the show. Food and crafts were on sale there, as was face painting by Deborah Phillips.

The event was a great way to learn about another culture, said Phillips, whose son Sam was in the production.

“They really concentrated in the effort to make it accurate, and I think it’s a great learning experience,” she said.

Phillips, along with her son, created the set work for the village.

“It just became an Irish/Celtic celebration,” said Dwayne Clement, drama assistant director. “Everyone is loving it. I’ve had people come up to me saying, ‘I was born in Ireland and this touched my heart.’”