2017 Shuler Hensley Awards

Shuler Awards 2020: Our Path Forward TOGETHER!

Even in this unprecedented time full of unforeseen challenges, TOGETHER we will meet our mission of “celebrating excellence in high school musical theatre.” 

In the interest of sharing updates with answers, sensitivity and transparency, we’re posting this additional information about this year’s Shuler Awards competition and our path forward for the weeks ahead. We’ve heard from many voicing messages of support and/or questions. Presented below are some of the most common inquiries received by our team, as well as answers for our path ahead. 

We invite you to please share additional questions, feedback and concerns via email to me at jdobbs@artsbridgega.org. 

Warm regards,

Jennifer D. Dobbs, Executive Director 


Frequently Asked Questions  (Updates as of March 27, 2020)


Q: Where do things stand in regards to this year’s Shuler Awards competition?

A: In honor of the nearly 10,000 Georgia high school students involved with Shulers this year, on March 24 ArtsBridge Foundation announced that the 12th Annual Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards competition will remain in progress. Due to city and state mandates to not gather in public spaces for the foreseeable future, ArtsBridge Foundation organizers determined there would not be a full student-centric ceremony on stage at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in April 2020 as hoped or envisioned, but the competition nominees, winners and all participating schools will be honored through an online presentation with our partners at Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB).


Q: What is happening now with the judging?

A: As of March 27, the final stages of score tabulation are underway, and nominees from participating schools – as well as scholarship winners – will be announced online on April 3, with winners to be announced and celebrated with an online presentation in early May. We appreciate those who have voiced their understanding, support, and praise of the eight unadjudicated schools for demonstrating their flexibility, perseverance, and good sportspersonship in the face of very difficult decisions made to preserve the competition for the 67 schools adjudicated before March 13.  


Q: Where can I get more updates about the process in the days ahead?

A: Additional details about both announcement dates and online formats/timing will be announced later this month via ArtsBridgeGA.org. For daily updates, follow us on all of our social media channels, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @ArtsBridgeGA.


Q: What schools are still competing? Which schools were not adjudicated? 

A: Eight schools were unfortunately not able to be adjudicated due to statewide or school district closures mandated in response to COVID-19. As always, ArtsBridge is working to celebrate all of the students involved with Shulers. A list of the competing schools is included below for reference. 


Q: Are you going to recognize the eight schools that were not adjudicated? If so, how?

A: We are working on a number of creative and meaningful ways to shine a special spotlight on the eight schools, to recognize the hard work completed before their performances got canceled. Not only are we going to highlight these schools -- as well as the nominees and scholarship winners from other competing schools -- during the nomination announcements on April 3, but we are also going to honor them during the online ceremony in May. If you attend one of these schools, please stay tuned as we will be in touch with your directors in the days ahead. 


Q: Why not cancel this year’s competition? 

A: Our mission is to celebrate excellence in high school musical theatre. Continuing with the Shulers provides an opportunity, in the midst of cancelled proms, graduations, and other cherished events, to come together, to celebrate, and to lift up our students from across the state and all of the hard work that they have put into their shows, including the shows that were not adjudicated. Additionally, continuing with the Shuler Awards provides an opportunity to demonstrate the ways that the Shuler Awards are not just about the awards but also a moment to come together in solidarity and support of each other as a larger theatre community, including those beloved members who are struggling at this time.  


Q: Why not delay this year’s competition?

A: From August to May of each year, the Georgia High School Musical Theatre program serves nearly 10,000 students, this year spanning 26 school districts statewide. Each has responded to the ever-changing mandates from local and state officials in the ways that best meet the needs of their individual students. That being stated, finding one future date that will work for all participants would be nearly impossible with so many differing approaches and schedules from one school district to another. With this in mind, ArtsBridge Foundation decided that instead of keeping our participants in limbo we will move the nomination and scholarship winner announcement to Friday, April 3 at noon with an amended awards ceremony in early May to align with the end of the traditional school year. This was a difficult decision, in light of the eight schools who will not be able to be adjudicated this Shuler season, but one made with much heartfelt consideration towards finding a way forward that still allows for us to be able to celebrate all 75 schools involved with Shulers this year.  


Q: I heard that similar competitions in other states got delayed or cancelled? Why are other states doing things different than here?

A:  Each state’s high musical theatre program is independently operated and has its own timeline. As of March 2020, numerous states had only just begun their adjudication process or were regrettably unable to begin one, which impacted their decision to delay or cancel their program. Conversely, with its annual start date of August, the Shuler Awards program is one of the earliest adjudicated programs in the nation. From the first signs that a Shuler Awards ceremony might not be possible, our ArtsBridge Foundation team jumped into action to keep as much of the competition intact and inclusive of as many participating schools as possible, proving in a small way that ‘the show must – and can – go on.’ 


Q: I perceive/heard about potential favoritism in regards to some competing schools? Was there special treatment?

A: Nothing could be further from the truth, and hearing this greatly saddens us, because we pride ourselves in setting a standard of best practices in the nation and upholding the rigorous standards of our program. Due to the State of Georgia mandate that schools close in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked quickly and diligently to respond to the needs of each school that contacted us on a first-come, first-served basis. Unfortunately, we were not able to accommodate every school that reached out to us on the evening of March 12. Regrettably, our actions may have been perceived by some as showing “preferential treatment.”  

Before the press conference on March 12 at 3 p.m. held by Gov. Brian Kemp, we took the extraordinary measure of reaching out to every school slated to perform that same weekend to verify that each musical theatre production was still occurring as scheduled. Immediately following the governor’s press conference, and in light of the quick and unexpected circumstances, we had lots of phone calls from various schools reporting cancellations or asking for accommodations, based on their independent school district plans. Per our standard policy from August to March, we attempted to address the requests in order as received and based on adjudicator availability. If an actual request for assistance was not received, we could not help in any way.


Q: Who are the judges/adjudicators? Why couldn’t they adjudicate certain schools?

A: Shuler Award candidate productions were evaluated by a dedicated group of 60 volunteers who are Georgia-based arts professionals. The adjudication assignment process is complex and is created more than six months in advance. Every year, the final adjudication weekend (this year March 12-15) is always jam-packed with wonderful high school musical theatre performances, so every available adjudicator is deployed. This year, the emerging mandate put in place by the state and by each individual school/district, unfortunately made all of the last-minute requests difficult for our team to fulfill. We answered and assisted each incoming call in order. Some schools called to inform us of performance cancellations, which relieved adjudicators to be deployed to see other shows that made accommodations for their adjudication, such as an hour or two delayed opening. Once all of the available adjudicators were re-assigned, there were none left to accommodate remaining shows. The accounting firm Bennett Thrasher is tabulating the results from adjudication forms completed and submitted through March 12. This process will conclude March 29. More information is available on the ArtsBridge Foundation website at http://artsbridgega.org/programs/shuler-awards/.  


Q: Why aren’t video submissions for non-adjudicated schools being accepted?

A: Due to parity, it is ArtsBridge Foundation policy to never accept video as part of an adjudication process for scoring. For several reasons, this is policy because there is a wide spectrum of quality differences, some schools are unable to submit videos due to legal reasons between schools and their publishing houses and each school has different capabilities in regards to capturing a live production on camera. For example, some schools may only have cell phone capability, while others may have inadequate camera lighting, etc. The lack of parity disallows video submission as a standard of measurement for adjudication purposes.  We accept video for production purposes only.


Q: What can I do to support the Shuler Awards and participants? 

A: There are several ways to share your support. First, schedule your virtual watch party and tune in on April 3 at Noon for the Nominations Announcement! The announcement will not only include the nominations and scholarship winners, but will also recognize the eight school performances that were unable  to be adjudicated due to school closures. 

Second, continue to uplift and support each other in this tough time for everyone. Be on the lookout for our encouragement movement via our social channels #SHARETHESHULERLOVE2020 and find out how you can contribute! 

Third, stay tuned for the date of the online winner presentation which will occur in early May! 

And finally, love what we’re doing? Learn more about how to support ArtsBridge Foundation and the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards - Shuler Hensley Awards at ArtsBridgeGA.org/get-involved/


Q: What are the Shuler Hensley Awards/Shuler Awards? 

A: Presented as the Shuler Hensley Awards and known as “The Shuler Awards” or “Shulers,” the education program is named for the Atlanta-born star of the stage and screen who typically emcees an annual ceremony in the tradition of the Tony Awards.  Nominees and winners are recognized as the best of the state’s high school musical theatre students and schools of the 2019-2020 academic year, with two winners—best actress and actor—typically progressing to represent Georgia nationally in New York in June. However, organizers Broadway League announced that this year’s presentation of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards program – named The Jimmy Awards® – was canceled on March 20. The 2020 Shuler Awards performance and live broadcast on Georgia Public Broadcasting was originally scheduled to take place April 16, but is now pushed to early May, without a live broadcast or performance.

Q: Who is competing this year?

A: During the 2019-2020 school year – cut short and still in flux due to the global, national, and statewide responses to COVID-19 – ArtsBridge engaged with 75 Georgia high schools chosen to compete through an online enrollment process that took place in August. Of the original 75 schools, 67 were able to remain in competition before individual school districts announced school closures, many taking effect by March 13. The selected public and private schools span 24 counties across the Peach State. The complete list of schools is available below for reference. The 2019-2020 competition engaged approximately 9,400 students. Since 2009, the Shuler Awards have engaged over 52,200 students from 139 schools and 38 counties/school systems. This year’s registration day in August (for the 2019-20 competition) broke records with 75 schools from 24 counties enrolling in the program online, filling the application pool in less than 20 minutes.

Q: What are the competition categories?

A: Fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards, this year’s Shuler Award high schools and their students competed in 17 categories. The main objectives of the program are to increase awareness, advocacy and support for Georgia’s arts education programs, to develop and foster growing talent by providing learning and performance opportunities, and cultivating/nurturing productive relationships among Georgia’s promising thespians and educators. The Shuler Award categories include direction, music direction, orchestra, lighting design, showstopper, choreography, featured performer, ensemble, overall production, technical execution, sound, scenic design, costumes, and best performances by a leading actress, actor, supporting actress or supporting actor.

Q: Who are the sponsors?

A: Sponsors of the 2019-2020 Shuler Awards include the Atlanta Braves Foundation, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Delta Community Credit Union, Deloitte, John & Mary Franklin Foundation, Georgia Lottery, Jimmy and Helen Carlos, Shan Cooper and Tyler Perry Studios. A full list of sponsors is available online at ArtsBridgeGA.org/our-supporters/partnerships. We are thankful for the generosity of our financial supporters who recognize the importance and educational value of the Shuler Awards program. Additional corporate donations or private contributions to the Shuler Awards are appreciated and may be submitted online at ArtsBridgeGA.org/get-involved/donate.

Q: What is ArtsBridge Foundation?

A: ArtsBridge Foundation is dedicated to providing quality arts education and community programs that engage, motivate, inspire, and elevate the next generation of artists and arts supporters. ArtsBridge provides arts education opportunities to K-12 students through programs at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, including field trips, professional development, family programs, and the annual Shuler Awards. Since 2007, ArtsBridge has served more than 380,000 students and educators from 67 Georgia counties, plus students from five bordering states. ArtsBridge Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. ArtsBridge Foundation and GPB-TV’s live broadcast of The Shulers won the Southeast Emmy® Award in 2018 and 2019 for special event live coverage, indicative of the superb quality and high production value Georgia students bring at show time. To learn more visit ArtsBridgeGA.org. 

Q: What schools were chosen for the 2019-2020 Shuler Awards competition? Which schools could be adjudicated and which schools could not (unfortunately, due to COVID-19 closures)?

The selected 75 public and private schools that were finalists for the 12th Annual Georgia 

High School Musical Theatre Awards – later reduced to 67 due to COVID-19 related closures – spanned 24 counties across the Peach State. The 75 high schools included appear here: 

Notes about the school list: Schools listed in italics and bold were selected for the Shuler Awards competition in August 2019 but unfortunately were unable to perform for Shuler Awards adjudication due to school system cancellations caused by the March 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Vigilantly working to accommodate schools, ArtsBridge Foundation closed adjudication March 15, 2020. According to Dobbs, “Every effort was made to engage pending schools during the week of March 9. We regret not all schools could be accommodated.” School(s) listed in bold (without italics) were selected for the competition in August 2019 but withdrew from the competition during late 2019.

Allatoona High School in Acworth, Ga. (Cobb Co.) presented “Peter Pan”

Artios Academies of Sugar Hill in Sugar Hill, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Fiddler on the Roof”

Brookwood High School in Snellville, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Drowsy Chaperone”

Buford High School in Buford, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Calhoun High School in Calhoun, Ga. (Gordon Co.) presented “Pippin”

Cambridge High School in Milton, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Pippin”

Centennial High School in Roswell, Ga. (Fulton, Co.) presented “Matilda”

Chamblee Charter High School in Chamblee, Ga. (DeKalb Co.) presented “The Drowsy Chaperone”

Chattahoochee High School in Johns Creek, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Cabaret”

Coahulla Creek High School in Dalton, Ga. (Whitfield Co.) presented “Pippin”

Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Chicago – High School Edition”

Creekview High School in Canton, Ga (Cherokee Co.) presented “The Addams Family”

Davidson Fine Arts School in Augusta, Ga. (Richmond Co.) presented “West Side Story”

Decatur High School in Decatur, Ga. (DeKalb Co.) presented “42nd Street”

Denmark High School in Alpharetta, Ga. (Forsyth Co.) presented “Bonnie and Clyde”

Douglas County High School in Douglasville, Ga. (Douglas Co.) presented “The Addams Family”

Duluth High School in Duluth, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Footloose!”

Dunwoody High School in Dunwoody, Ga. (DeKalb Co.) presented “Fiddler on the Roof”

Flowery Branch High School in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Hall Co.) presented “Mamma Mia!”

Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Ga (Hall Co.) presented “Smokey Joe’s Café”

Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga. (Glynn Co.) presented “Rent – High School Edition”

Gordon Central High School in Calhoun, Ga. (Gordon Co.) presented “Fly By Night”

Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, Ga. (Gwinnett) presented “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”

Greenbrier High School in Evans, Ga. (Columbia Co.) presented “Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Ga. (Cobb Co.) presented “Once Upon a Mattress”

Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Hello Dolly!”

Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga. (Rockdale Co.) presented “Leap of Faith”

Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, Ga. (Cobb Co.) presented “Working”

Hiram High School in Hiram, Ga. (Paulding Co.) presented “Shrek”

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Wizard of Oz”

Johns Creek High School in Johns Creek, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Big Fish”

Johnson High School in Gainesville (Hall Co.) presented “Chicago – High School Edition”

Kennesaw Mountain High School in Kennesaw, Ga. (Cobb Co.) presented “Pippin”

Konos Academy in Tyrone, Ga. (Fayette Co.) presented ‘The Wizard of Oz”

Lake Oconee Academy in Greensboro, Ga. (Greene Co.) withdrew in late 2019

Lakeside High School in Atlanta, Ga. (DeKalb Co.) presented “Mary Poppins”

Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, Ga. (Hall Co.) presented “Newsies”

Lambert High School in Suwanee, Ga. (Forsyth Co.) presented “Holiday Inn”

Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Big Fish”

Marist School in Brookhaven, Ga. (DeKalb Co.) withdrew in late 2019

Martha Ellen Stillwell School of the Arts in Jonesboro, Ga. (Clayton) presented “Little Shop of Horrors”

Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Little Shop of Horrors”

McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, Ga. (Fayette Co.) presented “Mary Poppins”

Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “The Addams Family”

Milton High School in Milton, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Chicago – High School Edition”

Morgan County High School in Madison, Ga. (Morgan Co.) presented “Beauty and the Beast”

Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Ga. (Cobb Co.) presented “Tuck Everlasting”

Mountain View High School in Lawrenceville, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Newsies”

Newton High School in Covington, Ga. (Newton Co.) presented “Cinderella”

North Atlanta High School in Atlanta, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Chicago – High School Edition”

North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw, Ga. (Cobb Co.) presented “The Little Mermaid”

North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Hairspray”

North Hall High School in Gainesville, Ga. (Hall Co.) presented “The Wedding Singer”

Northgate High School in Newnan, Ga. (Coweta Co.) presented “Honk”

Northwest Whitfield County High School in Tunnel Hill, Ga. presented “Chicago – High School Edition”

Oconee County High School in Watkinsville, Ga. (Oconee Co.) presented “Urinetown”

Pope High School in Marietta, Ga. (Cobb Co.) presented “Footloose!”

Prince Avenue Christian School in Bogart, Ga. (Oconee Co.) presented “Guys and Dolls”

Providence Christian Academy in Lilburn, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Shrek”

Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Rabun Gap, Ga. (Rabun Co.) presented “The Robber Bridegroom”

Ringgold High School in Ringgold, Ga. (Catoosa Co.) presented “Shrek”

Roswell High School in Roswell, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Pippin”

Savannah Christian Preparatory School in Savannah, Ga. (Chatham Co.) presented “Seussical”

Sonoraville High School in Calhoun, Ga. (Gordon Co.) presented “All Shook Up”

South Forsyth High School in Cumming, Ga. (Forsyth Co.) presented “Elf the Musical”

Southeast Whitfield High School in Dalton, Ga. (Whitfield Co.) presented “9 to 5”

St. Vincent’s Academy in Savannah (Chatham) presented “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying!”

Starr’s Mill High School in Fayetteville, Ga. (Fayette Co.) presented “Bye Bye Birdie”

The Heritage School in Newnan, Ga. (Coweta Co.) presented “Be More Chill”

The Lovett School in Atlanta, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “The Little Mermaid”

Tri-Cities High School in East Point, Ga. (Fulton Co.) presented “Into the Woods”

Trinity Christian School in Sharpsburg, Ga. (Coweta Co.) presented “High School Musical”

Walton High School in Marietta, Ga. (Cobb Co.) presented “Matilda”

Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Ga. (Gwinnett Co.) presented “Tuck Everlasting”

West Forsyth High School in Cumming, Ga. (Forsyth Co.) presented “Into the Woods”

Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga. (Cobb Co.) presented “Freaky Friday”

Whitewater High School in Fayetteville, Ga. (Fayette Co.) presented “The Addams Family”

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