Jessica King spent exactly one day, Sept. 6, at the Black River Middle School in Chester before leaving for an education of a different kind.
King was cast in the broadway musical Billy Elliot, now in the midst of a national tour. It is something that King has been training for most of her young life.
"I started dancing when I was two-years-old at Art of Dance in Chester," King said. "I got involved in singing when I was at Bragg and we had a school chorus."
According to King, the opportunity to audition for Billy Elliot came through her dance studio. A studio she studies at six days a week.
"Our company at Art of Dance attends New York City Dance Alliance Nationals each year. We spend a week in New York City competing and taking classes. NYCDA offers many audition experiences for their dancers and that is where I first auditioned for Billy Elliot," King said. " I received a call back after the first audition and later received another call from Nora Brennan.I was asked to come into New York City for a third audition."
The call with the good news came in while King was out of town.
"We were on vacation at the beach when my mom received the call. I was at the waterpark with my friends on the boardwalk. When we came back to the house my mom was acting kind of strange," King said. "She was pacing a lot. Then she just blurted it out. 'They want you to join Billy Elliot National Tour.' I just had the biggest smile on my face. It was awesome that my friends were with me. They just started clapping for me."
For her part, King says the support system she has in her friends and family make all the difference.
"I have the best support system possible. My parents are sacrificing a lot so I can have this opportunity. I have an older sister and younger brother that have been by my side," King said. "I have a huge extended 'family' at my studio and they have been my cheerleaders."
King said Black River Middle school has been helpful by working with her to make sure she doesn't fall behind on her school work while traveling.
"I am really blessed," King said. "Without all the support I have received none of this would be possible."
As King begins rehearsals for her six month contract touring with the show, nothing resembling stage fright has even crossed her mind.
"I don’t get nervous, I get excited," King said. "We have lots of practice so I feel confident in all of the shows."
And whether she renews her contract and stays with the show or just gets back to Chester to be with her friend, visit some amusement parks, swim in or her pool or indulge in some crab legs, King has a future in mind.
"My ultimate goal is to attend Princeton University," King said. "I hope I can have a double major that includes dance. Performing will always be a part of my life."