Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 09.21.18Richmond School and Sixth Form College student Kieran Saunders with his portfolio on Hollywood star Gertrude Lawrence

Making an art out of study, students from Richmond School and Sixth Form College who have been awarded the coveted Artsmark

A TEENAGER has discovered a Hollywood star of stage and screen in his family history as creative arts students strive to make their mark.

Rumbustious and racy forties actress, singer, dancer and musical comedy performer Gertrude Lawrence proved to be related to Richmond School boy Kieran Saunders.

The 14-year-old ended up researching the West End and Broadway star as students worked to achieve the coveted Artsmark

“She had been talked about in the family for as long as I can remember and when I looked into it more closely she turned out to be my nan’s nan’s sister,” said Kieran, of Catterick.

“She started in theatre when she was just 11 and had quite a life until she died in her 50s. I really enjoyed researching her as she was quite a character. I love drama and theatre and might try to get into it one day.”

Kieran was one of 133 drama and 55 dance students to achieve the bronze Artsmark award, which stands them in good stead when they apply for university.

As part of the award they participate in and observe the arts and prepare a portfolio on someone who inspires them.

For Maia Ornsby, of Eppleby, the project saw her research Hollywood actor and charity worker Angelina Jolie.

“She inspires me on so many levels,” the 14-year-old said. “She has been through such a lot personally with her health and as well as being a good actor, she also makes time to campaign on global issues. I can see myself trying to do similar things; becoming an actor and helping people.”

Creative arts are proven to boost confidence and self-esteem and develop leadership skills.

Drama teacher Lisa Willis said Richmond School and Sixth Form College was a much more positive place to study as a result of such initiatives at a time when the Government was playing down the value of the arts.

“This is the highest number we have ever submitted for the award and to achieve so many bronzes is phenomenal,” she said.

“It gives Year 9 students a taste of what they will be doing at GCSE, teaches them about deadlines and keeps them motivated.

“It helps build their enthusiasm for the arts and gives them a greater appreciation of the industry. It teaches them about perseverance, which is something they can use in all aspects of their studies and life.”