Teen of the Week: Drama is Annapolis High grad's forte

Wendi Winters
Contact Reporterwwinters@capgaznews.com

Rachel Milio is the bona fide “baby” of the Annapolis High School Class of 2018 which graduated June 1.

At 17 years old, she is its youngest member.

“I skipped first grade after taking some tests,” she said.

The teen maintained her test-taking skills. She ranked among the top 15 in the class while in the International Baccalaureate Program.

She was a member of the National Honor Society, Italian Honor Society and vice president of the International Thespian Society. And, having scored a 5 on four AP exams, she is an AP Scholar with Distinction.

“Rachel is no average teenage girl,” said chemistry and physics instructor Akshay Gandhi. “Rachel is of the utmost quality as a student and one of the most empathetic souls you could encounter. She is quick to lend a hand to others and can ease tension with her well-timed humor.”

Rachel’s main passion during her high school years was the school’s drama company productions. She was the only member of the Class of 2018 to have held an onstage role in every show throughout her four years, plus she appeared in numerous improvisational presentations. She was the captain of the drama club’s improv troupe which held its final show May 15.

“It was a nice way to end the year,” she said.

The improv group has gathered with like-minded students from Broadneck, Severna Park, Glen Burnie and South River high schools to stage Improvapalooza evenings. Another countywide get-together of thespians is TheatreFest, a showcase held at South River High School.

“Each school does an act from one of their shows. It’s been nice to watch kids from other schools grow up over the past four years,” she said.

In addition to performing onstage, Rachel handled several backstage duties over the years from operating the sound board to serving as the director of one show and producer of several others. In March, she directed “The Fantasticks” for her IB Theater course. “I got to put my own ideas into the show,” she said.

Her favorite role was as the narrator in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” where she played a middle-aged man.

“It was difficult but fun,” she said. “I had to change the way I walked. I walked as an older man with a shuffle instead of walking on my toes.”

As her theater involvement ramped up her senior year, Rachel regrets she was not able to volunteer to mentor special-needs students in first- and third-grade classes at her alma mater, Rolling Knolls Elementary School, as often as she had in previous years.

“I liked doing it,” she said.

Still, she was active, through the Italian Honor Society, in tutoring underclassmen at Annapolis High.

“Rachel epitomizes the kind of quality hard work you want from any student whether performing or in the classroom,” said guidance counselor Kathleen Richburg.

Kathy Milio, her mother, is a substitute teacher and volunteer at Rolling Knolls Elementary. Her father Michael Milio, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, is a consultant for Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services firm. She has two younger sisters: Karleigh, 14, an eighth-grade Pre-IB student at Bates Middle School; and Sara, 12, a seventh-grade Pre-IB student, also at Bates.

Rachel was accepted at her first college choice: Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. After she applied, she received an application for the university’s Presidential Fellows Program and was accepted to that program as well. As a fellow, she’ll receive a $30,000 annual merit scholarship renewable over four years and be matched with a mentor from Bucknell’s faculty or staff.

“Bucknell is a small, liberal arts school and has a pretty campus,” she said. “During the first tour I took, everyone seemed so friendly and community-oriented. Everyone seemed to be having fun.”

Though she plans to get involved in Bucknell’s improve group, Rachel will be a history major.

“I love theater but like history a lot, too,” she said. “I’ll try different things in college until something sticks.”

Math teacher Daniel Laraway called Rachel one of the hardest workers he’s met.

“Even when everything got crazy with a show she was directing on her own, two musicals — including one in which she was the lead — and improv were happening at the same time, she got all of her work done. IB higher level math is very difficult, but she didn't just learn it, she was able to help those around her in class.

“She was a rock I could lean on and that's very rare to get from a student.”

Rachel recently learned, based on her PSAT scores, she is a National Merit Scholarship finalist and is one out of five recipients in Anne Arundel County. The award comes with an $8,000 scholarship.

The teen thanked her teachers, among them Benjamin Korbelak, a math instructor and improv troupe supervisor and math instructor Laraway who attended each of her shows.

“It’s nice to have someone who supports all his students, whether they’re in a play, an art show, or a dance recital. Both have been so great,” she said.

Anyone may nominate a Teen of the Week. Send nominations by email to Wendi Winters at wwinters@capgaznews.com.

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