Nine Students and Five Professionals Honored at Annual Creativity Awards | Salem State University Skip to main content

Nine Students and Five Professionals Honored at Annual Creativity Awards

At its 36th annual Creativity Awards, Salem State honored nine students and five arts luminaries with Creativity Awards and Lifetime Achievements Awards, respectively.

Faculty members from the College of Arts and Sciences in the disciplines of art + design, creative writing, dance, music and theatre nominated students for these awards. Students are recognized for outstanding achievement in their disciplines, and their contributions to the university and the community as artists. Each student was presented with a certificate and monetary award, and each performed, presented a reading, or displaying their artwork.

The individuals honored with the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Awards are recognized nationally and internationally for substantial contributions to their respective disciplines as artists, educators, and advocates for the next generation of artists. Traditionally, only one award is given out per year, however, in recognition of the opening of the Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, five awards were presented this year. These are the highest honors in the arts an individual can receive from the university.

“The Creativity Awards and the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award are the highest honor we give in recognition of artistic achievement. The awards event is not just a celebration of artistic achievement but also a reminder of the profound impact the arts have on individuals and in our communities,” Karen Gahagan, Director of the Center for Creative and Performing Arts, said.   

“Each Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is an educator in their artistic field so we always make it a point to connect them to our students in a larger way, beyond the award ceremony,” according to Gahagan. 

Robert Honeysucker, honored for music, performed a concert and taught a master class on campus this spring. Jon Sarkin, artist, will be an artist in residence during the 2017-18 academic year, including a solo exhibition at Salem State this fall. Peter DiMuro, dance, has taught master classes and performed on campus, returning this September for a performance by his company Public Displays of Motion. And Gail Mazur, creative writing, and Tina Packer, theatre, will continue to partner with Salem State in various capacities in the future.

The university anticipates bringing Gail Mazur and Tina Packer back to campus at some point in the coming year.

The students who received Creativity Awards include:


Mark Katz, of Dorchester, is the creator of the Art Box that sits in downtown Salem in front of Tavern on the Square.

Creative Writing

Amanda Mark, of Sandwich, is the editor of the Salem State literary magazine “Soundings East,” writer, and an American Government, Law and Policy student. Amanda will be traveling to Washington DC for a summer internship in the Office of U.S. Congressman Bill Keating.

JD Debris, of Boston, was awarded for his creative writing. He is also a musician and performance artist.


Kayleigh Cyr, of Sudbury, and Kelsey Blanchette, of Derry, NH, both were assistant choreographers for the spring 2017 production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Both were among a select group of students whose work was performed in the adjudicated section of the American College Dance Association Conference.


Gary Hanson, of Salem, is a composer, arranger, and percussionist, and instructs and arranges for the Salem High School marching band and percussion ensemble.

Stephanie Lento, of North Reading, is a singer and pianist and is teaching at the Real School of Music in Andover and the Fabulous School of Music in Beverly.   


Ryan Blaney, of Salisbury, and Krystal Hernandez, of Waltham, both won awards at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival earlier this year. Ryan won the Excellence in Sound Design award at the national level, and Krystal was named second alternate in the regional Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition. 

Kimberly Burnett
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