The 2004 Cappies nominations were announced recently, honoring high school student actors, dancers, singers, musicians, technical crews, backstage managers and critics from throughout the Washington area.

The winners will be announced June 13 at a Tony Awards-style gala at the Kennedy Center.

Cappies, which stands for Critics and Awards Program, was launched in 1999 after the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, to bring attention to the positive contributions of teenagers.

The program was the brainchild of Bill Strauss of McLean, co-founder and director of the Capitol Steps political parody group, and was implemented with the assistance of Judy Bowns, a theater arts resource teacher in the Fairfax County school system.

Centered initially in Northern Virginia, the program has expanded. This year, 55 high schools in Virginia, Maryland and the District participated.

With this growth, the program's name changed to Cappies of the National Capital Area to reflect its broader reach. School districts nationwide, from Oregon to Texas to New York, have started their own Cappies programs based on the Washington area model.

Each participating school designates one show each year as its Cappies performance. Other students attend the show, write critical reviews and submit them for publication in The Washington Post and area newspapers. Critics vote on the Cappies nominees, as well as the eventual award recipients.