Sam Grossier and Jason Smith Earn Senior Spotlight

Sam Grossier and Jason Smith put their love for the theater to test as they co-direct for School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA)

 Sam Grossier and Jason Smith collaborate to make a memorable show.

Sam Grossier and Jason Smith
Sam Grossier, photo courtesy of Rebecca Brownsword

Montclair High School seniors, Sam Grossier and Jason Smith, are co-directing a show through the School of Visual and Performing Arts (SVPA) for their senior option. SVPA is the performing arts community at Montclair High School which is known for the three shows they put on every school year. Grossier and Smith have acted in all of these shows for the entirety of their high school careers.

This year’s Senior Option play is a version of The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown. For this performance, they are not using the traditional production format and certain songs will be omitted.

“This is the first time I’ve actually directed a show,” said Grossier. “It’s teaching me how to work with actors. Normally I am the actor working with the director so it’s interesting to flip roles.”

Smith also has nothing but admiration for this opportunity. “This internship is such a gift,” said Smith. “It’s giving me the opportunity to focus on what I’m really interested in without any distractions. It’s really allowing me to put all of my energy and attention into my project.”

SVPA is run by Brenda Pepper. SVPA started participating in the Career Internship Program four years ago when one of the directors, Pat Woodward, passed away and a senior decided to put on a show in her honor. This led to the founding of the “Pat Woodward Scholarship,” where all of the funds come from the money that the Senior Option play collects. Pepper said that SVPA plans to continue its participation in the Career Internship Program “as long as it continues to be a helpful learning process for everyone involved.”

Aside from acting in SVPA shows, these seniors have kept busy during their time in high school. Grossier was the leader of the acapella group “Passing Notes,” a member of the the “Civics and Government Institute” at Montclair High School and he was on the Montclair swim team.

Sam Grossier and Jason Smith
Jason Smith, photo courtesy of Rebecca Brownsword

Smith was in Montclair High School’s Dance Company and was a member of both the Sisters on the Runway and Drama clubs.

Both Grossier and Smith will miss SVPA after they graduate high school. “[SVPA] was a huge part of my high school experience and it definitely made high school more bearable,” said Smith. “Through SVPA I found theater, which has become a huge part of my life, and I’ve found lifelong friends.”

These rising stars offer advice to current MHS students: “When you invest yourself in something, make sure it will allow you to learn about yourself” said Grossier. Smith added, “Don’t be afraid to get involved in things that interest you. Getting involved in a community will make high school a more comfortable place.”

Grossier will be attending Northwestern University and Smith will be attending Montclair State University starting this fall. Both seniors will pursue theater as their main field of study.

Written By: Rebecca Brownsword, Caitlin Kennedy, Natalie Toth and Maddy Firkser

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