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Seminole Ridge valedictorian aims to pursue career in theater

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Rowan Pelfrey, 17

Rowan Pelfrey is like a lot of other high school students who like to watch television shows and movies about gruesome crimes and hideous characters. But, while most are doing it for the shock value, Pelfrey is paying close attention for a far different reason – she is honestly intrigued.

It’s not the blood and the crimes themselves that keep her rapt attention. It’s why those things even exist that has Pelfrey so engaged.

“I just love the sociology and looking at how society can make people really, really messed up,” Pelfrey said. “I love the shows and movies that have a story behind them.”

She loves the stories so much, in fact, that the Seminole Ridge High valedictorian is planning to make a career learning every single thing she can about those stories.

Pelfrey, 17, is headed to the University of West Florida, where she plans to double major in musical theater and history. The goal, at least with a couple months left in her senior year of high school, is to become a dramaturge.

Dramaturgy is, basically, the intense study of every aspect of a particular theatrical show, including design, style, past performances, history and anything else related to that production.

“It is researching everything you possibly can about a production’s history and gaining intelligence about anything that’s ever been done,” Pelfrey said. Many of the bigger productions usually have one on staff. I would think there is one working at the Kravis Center and other places like that.”

Dramaturgy combines several of Pelfrey’s loves.

She began acting on stage when she was in elementary school and Seminole Ridge needed someone to play the roll of Molly in “Annie” who was actually smaller than the lead role of Annie. Pelfrey’s mother works at Seminole Ridge and suggested she fill in since she met the size requirement.

The theater career grew from there. And then it began to incorporate her other love – singing.

Pelfrey has been singing since she was 6, performing weekly with the Praise Team at Palms West Presbyterian and showcasing her skills at the Florida Vocal Association’s state competition.

A member of her school’s Chamber Choir, she has earned superior ratings each of the last three years at that competition and will compete in April in the Musical and Theater categories.

“I love performing,” Pelfrey said. “There are lots of things that I like to do, but I love to perform musicals because I get to sing and act at the same time.”

Pelfrey’s road to valedictorian wasn’t one she concentrated on from day one.

After her freshman year, she was ranked in the Top 20 in her class and thought Top 10 might be a pretty good goal. She took some dual enrollment classes her sophomore year and some more classes in the summer and found herself ranked No. 2.

“Then I said I said I was going to go for it,” Pelfrey said. “But it wasn’t going to interfere with theater or choir.”

During her junior and senior years, she took enough dual enrollment and AP courses that her 4.0 unweighted GPA ballooned into a 5.2 weighted score and she ran away with the top ranking in her class. When she enters West Florida, she will have already completed her associate’s degree.

“I’ve worked hard for this,” Pelfrey said. “I always push myself to do really well, but I didn’t expect to be No. 1 when I started high school. But I worked hard to get there.”

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