Dozens of students from Howard County high schools were honored for their achievements in high school theater May 24 during the first Cappies Gala at the Joseph P. Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.

The Critics and Awards Program, known as the Cappies, has operated for several years in Northern Virginia and Washington. The Washington area gala is scheduled later this month at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

This year, however, was the first year for the Cappies program in Howard and Baltimore County schools. All 12 Howard high schools participated. Students not only produced and performed in the plays but also wrote reviews, which were published the past year in Howard Extra, as well as other publications.

The event at the Meyerhoff drew hundreds of students, many dressed in evening gowns and tuxedos. Between the announcement of winners, students performed skits and musical numbers from each nominated show.

Awards recognizing performers, technical crews and reviewers were given in 33 categories. Long Reach High School in Columbia was the top winner, with eight awards for its winter performance of "The Princess Bride." The award for best musical went to Mount Hebron High for "The Will Rogers Follies."

The four award winners for lead actor/actress in a play or musical were invited to participate in the Cappies National Theater this summer at the Kennedy Center, where they will join other top Cappies winners from the eastern United States.

The Cappies program was created by Bill Strauss, a founder and director of the political satire group Capitol Steps and author of several books on adolescence and youth, and Judy Bowns, a Fairfax County theater resource teacher, who came up with the idea not long after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

The pair recognized that awards often were given to student athletes but seldom to those participating in extracurricular events such as theater. In the past five years, the program has been expanded to other places, including Kansas City, Mo.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Orange County, Calif.

And the Winners Are . . .

Lighting: Lauren Glover, Mount Hebron High, "The Will Rogers Follies."

Sets: Fourth-period stagecraft, Long Reach High, "The Princess Bride."

Costumes: Nick Aburn, Centennial High, "Bells Are Ringing!"

Makeup: Ned Collins-Chase, Danny Goldstein, Mary Kelley, Anastasia Pasmanik and Anna Prokop, Glenelg Country School, "The Wiz."

Stage crew: Ivy Gorman, Mount Hebron, "The Will Rogers Follies."

Choreography: Katie Brazaitis, Centennial, "Bells Are Ringing!"

Orchestra: Centennial, "Bells Are Ringing!"

Ensemble in a play: Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUS), Long Reach, "The Princess Bride."

Ensemble in a musical: Favorite Son, Mount Hebron, "The Will Rogers Follies."

Cameo actor: Bruce Wilson, Long Reach, "The Princess Bride."

Cameo actress: Katie Habib, River Hill High, "Oklahoma!," and Judith Ingber, Wilde Lake High, "The Sound of Music."

Male dancer: Eddie Lovern, Centennial, "Bells Are Ringing!"

Female dancer: Kathy Bianco and Laura Heidhausen, Glenelg High, "Pippin."

Male vocalist: Andrew Dodson, River Hill, "Oklahoma!"

Female vocalist: Steph Barnes, Wilde Lake, "The Sound of Music."

Comic actor in a play: William Hernandez, Long Reach, "The Princess Bride."

Comic actress in a play: Katy Wolf, Long Reach, "The Princess Bride."

Comic actor in a musical: Mike Burgtorf, Centennial, "Bells Are Ringing!"

Comic actress in a musical: Mary Lewis, Glenelg Country, "The Wiz."

Featured actor in a play: Yury Lomakin, Long Reach, "The Princess Bride."

Featured actress in a play: Chantal Hall, Long Reach, "The Princess Bride"

Featured actor in a musical: Scott Chahanovich, Mount Hebron, "The Will Rogers Follies."

Featured actress in a musical: Steffi Haaser, River Hill, "Oklahoma!"

Lead actor in a play: David Calder, Atholton High, "Ah, Wilderness!"

Lead actress in a play: Emily Morgan, Chesapeake High, "The Miracle Worker."

Lead actor in a musical: James Fritz, Mount Hebron, "The Will Rogers Follies."

Lead actress in a musical: Caroline Bowman, Glenelg High, "Pippin."

Song: Mu Cha Cha, Centennial, "Bells Are Ringing!"

Play: "The Princess Bride," Long Reach.

Musical: "The Will Rogers Follies," Mount Hebron.

Female critic: Megan Jeffrey, River Hill.

Male critic: David Calder, Atholton.

Critic teams: River Hill.

Mount Hebron High School tops the musical competition for its production of "The Will Rogers Follies."