Rafael Bryant is a tough act to follow.
Raphael, an eighth-grader at Computech Middle School, has an evident passion for all things to do with acting and drama. He has been doing forensics for the past two years and acting in plays since fifth grade.
“I love acting,” Rafael said. “I love doing school plays, outside of school doing plays and forensics, which is competition acting.”
Rafael has excelled in forensics, where he is team president, since he first started and will be competing in the national competition from June 14 to 18 in Salt Lake City, said teacher Rachel Hibler.
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“Rafael is an original member of my forensics team,” Hibler said. “He competed last year and won in high school competitions and achieving varsity level as a seventh grader, which is amazing because most kids competing in forensics don’t have a chance to reach varsity until they are at least freshman, usually sophomores.”
In addition to his work on the the forensics team, Rafael has been on the baseball and water polo teams. He has consistently been honored for his academic achievement on the honor roll, dean’s list and principal’s list for his GPA.
Hibler also has Rafael in her drama class and has observed how he mentors younger actors.
“He has really had to be a director this year,” Hibler said. “And teach Drama 1 students the ropes, how to behave on stage, giving feedback.”
Even though the school year is ending, Rafael doesn’t plan to slow down.
“My brother loves directing movies and short films,” Rafael said. “I’m writing a script with him this summer.”
After high school, Rafael plans to study drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
“It’s supposed to be one of the best acting schools in the world, and I want to become an actor when I grow up,” he said.
School: Computech Middle School
Parents: Timmy Bryant and Griselda Perez-Sanchez
Achievements: President and founding member of Computech Middle School’s forensics team, where he achieved varsity membership as a seventh-grader and won first-place honors in Humorous Interpretation and Duo; director and stage manager in drama and was assistant director on a school performance of “The Hysterical History of the Trojan War”; consistently on the honor roll, dean’s list and principal’s list for his academic achievement; a Destination Imagination team member.
EIGHTH GRADE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Suzanna Zavala, 13, Fresno
School: Tehipite Middle School
Parents: Leticia Pineda and Nazario Zavala
Achievements: Earned a 4.0 GPA in both seventh and eighth grade; awarded with membership in the County Honor Band for her expertise in playing the flute; honored in both seventh and eighth grade as a Student of Character; has four years of experience playing the flute and was selected as a Fresno-Madera California Music Educators Association Honor Band Member; participates in the Tennis Club and in the annual food drive at Tehipite.
Mari Sanders, 14, Porterville
School: Sequoia Middle School
Parents: Carey Sanders and Jennifer Perkins
Achievements: Won the California State Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest; is the Tulare County Science Fair champion, qualified for state; competed in the National History Day competition and was a finalist in the state competition; plays golf for Sequoia Middle School and plays club tennis; was an award-winner at the Sequoia Middle School Talent Show where she played piano.
Marguerite Henard, 14, Fresno
School: Rio Vista Middle School
Parents: Melissa Halsey and David Henard
Achievements: Has maintained a 4.0 GPA; active in her school’s music programs, including symphony and percussion, where she is the section leader; participated in a Susan G. Komen walk for breast cancer; participated in the Girls World Expo, where she was awarded the “Girl of Merit” award.
- Age: 13
- School: Computech Middle School
- Home: Fresno
- Parents: Timmy Bryant and Griselda Perez-Sanchez