10 years. A decade. Wow oh wow, what fun it has been! We’re not messing around when we say thank you, 10. Thank you to all the students, alumni, families, educators, sponsors, and staff who helped make the 10th Annual Heller Awards for Young Artists possible!
Now onto what you’ve all been waiting for. Drumroll please 🥁

THE 2023 haya WINNERS ARE…

Best Choreography

Chicago (High School Edition) | Cedar Ridge High School

Best Musical Direction

The Drowsy Chaperone | Vista Ridge High School

Best Orchestra

Pippin | McCallum Fine Arts Academy

Best Lighting Design

Pippin | McCallum Fine Arts Academy

Cedar Ridge High School in Chicago (High School Edition). Photo by Henry Huey.
Best Costume Design

Urinetown | Hendrickson High School

Best Scenic Design

Urinetown | Hendrickson High School

Best Technical Execution

Pippin | McCallum Fine Arts Academy

Best Ensemble

Urinetown | Hendrickson High School

Hendrickson High School in Urinetown. Photo by Henry Huey.
Best Featured Performer | Individual Category

Crystal Sin | Trix the Aviatrix | The Drowsy Chaperone | Vista Ridge High School

Best Featured Performer | Ensemble Category

David Luna | Featured Dancer | Mamma Mia! | Leander High School

Student Achievement | Marketing

Nicolas Pacelli | Vista Ridge High School

Student Achievement | Design

Rachel Cooke | Vista Ridge High School

Vista Ridge High School in The Drowsy Chaperone. Photo by Henry Huey.
Student Achievement | Stage Management

Audrey Lorenz | Dripping Springs High School

Best Supporting Performer | Male Category

Jack Stratton | Underling | The Drowsy Chaperone | Vista Ridge High School

Best Supporting Performer | Female Category

Kyra Carr | Officer Lockstock | Urinetown | Hendrickson High School

Best Lead Performer | Male Category

Langston Lee | Dmitry | Anastasia | Rouse High School

Rouse High School in Anastasia. Photo by Henry Huey.
Best Lead Performer | Female Category

Anabelle Crawford | Man In Chair | The Drowsy Chaperone | Vista Ridge High School

Best Direction

Urinetown | Hendrickson High School

Best Production

Pippin | McCallum Fine Arts Academy

McCallum Fine Arts Academy in Pippin. Photo by Henry Huey.

A special congratulations to Kyra Carr & Langston Lee who are headed to the Jimmy Awards this summer! Don’t forget about us when you get famous 💖

Photo by Henry Huey

We’ll see y’all in Dell Hall next year. Until then, be sure to follow @hellerawardsatx on the your social media platform of choice for show recaps, photos, videos, and all things HAYAs.

Food-first philosophy, food-first philosophy… say that five times fast! It may be a silly tongue twister, but it’s true that focusing on what you put in your body really does make a difference in your overall health. 

We got to play host to Painkillr‘s Work in Progress Austin event in March, and dieticians Irene Vielma and Amaris Garza from your friendly neighborhood H-E-B stopped by to help us all learn a little bit more about crafting a balanced plate, eating mindfully, and staying hydrated in the hot Austin summer.

Here’s what they had to say ⬇️

Balanced Plate

When it comes to fueling your body, it’s important to build meals and snacks that include a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and fats, all of which play essential an role in keeping our bodies strong and healthy. Carbohydrates provide the main source of energy for the body and brain – think fruits, like strawberries and apples, vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and grains like pasta and rice. Proteins are important for maintaining and repairing muscles – think chicken, tofu, turkey, lentils, that kind of thing. Fats, like avocados and tree nuts, help regulate body temperature and aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals.

When planning your meals, keep MyPlate in mind. Try to fill half of your dish with fruits and veggies and the other half with whole grains and lean proteins. Don’t forget about dairy!

This is especially important for you active folks. And before you ask, no, doing a bicep curl to put a taco in your mouth doesn’t count.

Three-four hours before you exercise, eat a meal that’s high in carbs, moderate in protein, low in fat, and low in fiber. This could look like mixing a tablespoon of peanut butter into your oatmeal and topping it off with fruit, or making a peanut butter sandwich with banana slices.

If you had a tough workout – like mowing your lawn at 4pm in August tough – aim for a balanced snack within an hour of your activity. Be sure to hydrate, too, but more on that later. If your workout was gentler, aim for a balanced meal 3-4 hours after your activity. You could whip up a chicken fajita bowl with brown rice, black beans, lettuce, salsa, and avocado, or try a bagel sandwich with avocado, scrambled eggs, and spinach.

Mindful Eating

Mindfulness is more than a new age buzzword; it’s an intentional focus on what thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations are coming up in our present moment. When we’re mindful, we focus on being aware of – rather than reacting to – our circumstance and choices. Couple that with our food habits and we get mindful eating.

Eating mindfully encourages us to make choices that will be satisfying and nourishing to our bodies. It discourages judging any eating behaviors. We’re all a little different after all, so why wouldn’t we have different types of eating experiences? As we become more aware of our eating habits, we may take steps towards behavior changes that will benefit not only ourselves, but also our environment.

7 Tips to Make Mindful Eating Part of Your Norm:
  1. Prepare to eat: Emotions are tied to eating, so try to recognize them and how they affect your food choices.
  2. Breathe and relax: Sit comfortably, take a few deep breaths, and take a moment to be thankful for the food you’re about to eat. This prepares the body for the rest-and-digest phase.
  3. Notice what is on your plate: Not paying attention to what you’re eating can lead to eating past our fullness queues. Notice the colors, textures, and volume of food on your plate. Pay attention to the smell, taste, and texture of your food as you eat.
  4. Chew thoroughly: Chew slowly, chewing each bite of food approximately 20 times. Enjoy the bursts of flavor in your mouth. Think about how the food makes you feel.
  5. Eat slowly: Enjoy what you eat and improve digestion by not rushing through your meal. Digestion begins with chewing. Chewing and swallowing are the only parts of the digestion process you can control.
  6. Stop when you are full: It takes the brain about 20 minutes to recognize that you’ve had enough— another good reason to not rush through your meal. Remember… you are not obligated to clear your plate!
  7. Make eating a separate activity: Eating while working, reading, or watching TV can cause you to overeat and make poor food choices. Feel free to forward this to your boss next time they ask you to work through lunch 😉

Water maintains our body temperature and helps transport oxygen and nutrients in our bloodstream. When our hydration levels drop, our body temperatures rise, it becomes harder to get oxygen and fresh nutrients to our cells, and our cognitive abilities begin to get dull. A 1% drop in your hydration status can cause cognitive impairment! And we don’t even start to feel thirsty until dehydration dips to 2%. All the more reason to sip on some water throughout your day, not just when your mouth gets dry.

On a normal day, we should all aim to drink about 1 oz of fluid per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 180 lbs, strive for 180 oz of fluid — that’s almost 1.5 gallons! And that’s just on a regular day; if you do activities where you sweat, you’ll want to add even more water to your routine, plus some electrolytes. Electrolytes carry (you guessed it) an electrical charge that help our muscles move. When we sweat them out, it becomes harder for our muscles to move our bones. Whether you spend a Thursday evening with us at The Drop-In or bust your 🍑 upping that garden game, staying hydrated is paramount!

Believe it or not, this is just the tip of the mindful eating and hydration icebergs! To learn more and get expert support, check out H-E-B’s Nutrition Services. An H-E-B Dietitian will talk through healthy lifestyle practices and even help you with your grocery shopping. H-E-B Wellness Primary Care and Nutrition Services offer in-person or virtual services. It might even be covered by your insurance!


At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

Don’t quite know what to do with that crazy story your friends can’t bear to listen to one more time? Song Confessional wants to hear it 🗣️.  Whether or not you’ve listened to the podcast that takes your “confessions” and turns them into hit songs, now’s a good time to check out the confessional booth for yourself! Now located in a corner of the ground floor lobby of the Long Center, we checked in with hosts Walker Lukens & Zac Catanzaro to get the scoop on all things Song Confessional. 



We bet you do! Swing by the Long Center Tuesday – Thursday, 11am to 2pm to give your confession and repent your synths. Or, join us for the Song Confessional Midnight Gala on July 20 from 9pm to midnight.

Hello! Please allow us to introduce ourselves as Song Confessional.

Here at Song Confessional, we seek to enable today’s top songwriters to create new songs inspired by everyday people’s experiences through collecting anonymous recordings of people telling stories, then giving these ‘confessions’ to songwriters, inspiring an original song.

Walker & Zac ☝️

Started by Austin musicians Walker Lukens and Zac Catanzaro, the project was initially conceived as a music festival activation. In pre-pandemic times, the duo traveled to various festivals around the country in their 1948 blue camper trailer / recording studio. Festival attendees could hop into the trailer and be recorded, recounting any experience they wanted.

These ‘confessions,’ as we like to call them, would then be shared with songwriters who would write and record an original song inspired by that anonymous confession. Once recorded, the song was pressed to a one-off 7″ record and sent to the confessor who inspired it.

More recently, the project evolved into a podcast in co-production with KUTX. Each episode features the anonymous story, the song it inspired, and an interview with the songwriter. Outside of the trailer, Song Confessional now operates two automated confessional booths, one outside Fort Collins, CO, and one right in our hometown of Austin, TX (more on this one later). People can walk into the booths and record themslves confessing their stories 7 days a week.

When you step into a Song Confessional recording booth, you’re immediately transported into another world full of mystery, possibility, and vulnerability. What if your story were to become a hit song you could hear on the radio? How personal would that connection be? When we think of our favorite songs, there’s always an inherent emotional connection. Maybe it’s a feeling, maybe it’s the time or place… whatever it is, we find music to be deeply personal. 

The Song Confessional recording booth allows people to share that raw emotion on its own in a safe and comfortable environment. No one will ever know it’s you that made this confession. That anonymity is where the magic happens, allowing you to explore the depth of your experience. The more detail and emotion shared, the more likely it is to inspire a great song. Not only is it cathartic in that moment, but the possibility of your confession surviving an eternity through song is down right exciting! We are always collecting confessions and courting songwriters to give them the tribute they deserve.

When we started this project, we weren’t aware of how vulnerable people were willing to be with a stranger. There is such beauty in having an unabashed, completely truthful conversation with someone you don’t know and are unlikely to ever see again. It almost makes talking about the hard stuff easier when you don’t have a personal relationship with each other. I guess that explains therapy!

Since launching our podcast in 2019 and almost not making it through the pandemic, Song Confessional has evolved in how the project is presented. Something we hadn’t fully planned was the automated concept. Originally launched at Hotel Magdalena on South Congress, we’re thrilled to be in our new spot at the historic Long Center in the heart of downtown Austin. Being surrounded by people that believe in art and have the ability to push things forward is an opportunity that’s unmatched, and we can’t wait to see what kinds of stories Long Center patrons share with us.

In addition to the original format of confession-song-artist interview, we’re now doing public call episodes. We choose a confession that we love and put it out there for the listeners of the show to write and record their own songs. We’ll choose our favorites and share them on the following episode. We also plan on launching a ‘Just The Confessions’ addendum podcast later this year. We get so many great confessions that it’s impossible to make them all into songs so we’re always looking for new ways to expand how we use our content.

If you haven’t yet checked out an episode of the show, we love recommending an episode from last season with the artist Boyfriend or the very first episode with Croy and The Boys. Both are great stories, great songs, great artists, and a perfect introduction to the show.

If you like what we do, follow along and check out our socials @songconfessional wherever you prefer!

— Walker & Zac

You can find the Song Confessional booth at the LC, tucked away in a corner of the Rollins Lobby on the Ground Floor. Time to repent your synths!

Open Tues – Thurs, 11am to 2pm.

📸 photos by Brynn Osborn.


At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

Year-End Gift 2023 | Long Center
Your Support Today, Transforms Tomorrow

We’ve made it our mission to support creativity in all its forms, and we hope this season you’ll join us and do the same. Your donation doesn’t just support our work, it’s a declaration that creativity belongs to everyone


Become a LC member today and and get first dibs on RSVP before the public, early entrance into the venue for you and your guests, members-only bars, and other surprises!

Amplify Austin is here – and we need your help to provide free arts experiences for K-12 students through our Long Reach for the Arts program.  Because the kids need art!