2022 Students of Distinction
Ella Marchio shines on stage, in choir
Gig Harbor Now is posting profiles of each of the 25 Students of Distinction being honored by the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. The students will be honored during a banquet from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Ocean5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr.
Student: Issabella Marchio
School: Peninsula High School
Category: Music, Art & Drama
Ella Marchio’s resume is filled with awards and accolades in music and theater.
It started in 2019 when she won a role in the musical “Once on This Island.” She took the class just to earn an art credit.
“What I didn’t know was this simple decision would turn into one of my biggest passions,” she said. “Nobody had prepared me for the process of creating a show for an audience or the remarkable and quite literally one-of-a-kind feeling of performing and being a part of something bigger than yourself. The only word I can use to describe this experience is ‘unrivaled’ as it has shaped the rest of my high school career and sparked an interest I didn’t know existed.”
Since then Ella has appeared in “Anne of Green Gables,” “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” and “Emma – A Pop Musical” to name a few. She played lead roles in productions at PHS and also at Tacoma Musical Playhouse and in this spring’s school production of “Cinderella.” She also studied at Seattle’s Children’s Theatre and the 5th Avenue Theatre.
Musically, Ella has represented PHS in the COMBMEA Solo/Ensemble Competition; WMEA All State, All-National and All-Northwest choirs; UPS High School Northwest Honor Choir; the Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir and as a lobby singer at Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” She has won awards for her solo performances in school choral concerts as well, and auditioned for American Idol and The Voice.
She and another student were the first students in PHS history to make it into the All National Choir in 2020 and 2021.
She applied to “a ton of east coast colleges” she said, but decided to stay close to home. She’s headed to Pacific Lutheran University this fall to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater.
“They have a really good music program and I like the idea of being so close,” she said. Although she’s not sure what the future holds after college, she’s interested in the possibilities of music therapy as a career.
Finding solace in song
PHS school counselor Ben Wagner describes Ella as a strong scholar, an active member of musical theater groups and a leader in her community.
“Her accomplishments on the stage are impressive in their own right, but are even more impressive when understood in the context of the adversity she has faced since she was young,” he said.
“She was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age seven. She found solace in singing and performing, and has persevered thru the emotional, social and physical pain. On stage this fades, and Ella is able to tap into the aspects of her personality that really shine.”
Kara Beloate, PHS performing arts teacher, admires Ella’s ability to smile and stay positive, even when it’s really hard.
“Like when she had to take my CWU Jazz Dance class online. Every day I’d look at that computer screen and there was Ella, smiling SO big, nodding her head, her eyes lit up, engaging and participating. That takes grit,” Beloate said.
Balancing class work with other responsibilities was sometimes a challenge, Ella said.
“I always want to be someone my family is proud of, and getting good grades is really important to me. But oftentimes I get so caught up in academic validation that I overlook numerous things in my life that should have greater if not equal importance. Like many students, I have had my fair share of strenuous and time-demanding classes and I have had to learn how to create harmony with my other responsibilities. Sometimes there are so many things going on at once, you have to learn to balance and take a breath.”
School: Peninsula High School
Category: Music, Art & Drama Achievement
Parents: Perry and Emilie Marchio
Activities/accomplishments: Theater counsel; Choir Vice President; National Society of High School Scholars; Cora Voce representative; Soccer — Harbor Soccer Club; West Narrows Soccer; PHS JV; One of two students in history to represent PHS in All National Choir
Favorite teacher: Lisa Mills, district music teacher at Vaughn Elementary. “She was my first exposure to music and without her I wouldn’t be pursuing my love for music.”
Best thing about PHS: “The inclusivity. There seems to be something for everyone and our programs are very flexible. Also many of our bigger-sized programs – like the performing arts programs – are very accepting.”
Advice to younger students: Be your biggest fan, be nice to yourself and recognize what is and is not in your control. Don’t be too hard on yourself.