Born in Japan, Yumi Casagrande resided in New Zealand for 10 years before moving to the United States. Currently, Ms. Casagrande is making her mark as a singer and actress. As a student at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, she was a member of the Drama Club. In addition to appearing in various productions, Yumi Casagrande and her fellow club members received mentoring from Andy Varela, an actor and singer who has appeared in Broadway productions.
At Pingry School, which she has attended since 2009, Yumi Casagrande is a member of the elite women’s ensemble the Pingry Balladeers. This group accepts a maximum of 20 students per year, with annual auditions necessary to retain a spot in the ensemble. As a Pingry Balladeer, she performs in a variety of venues, including churches, shopping malls, and schools. She also draws on her four years of voice training to compose music arrangements for the group.
Yumi Casagrande is an accomplished actress as well. In addition to performing in school musical productions for four consecutive years, she has appeared on stage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in 2010 and 2011. Under the name Yumi Kidani, Ms. Casagrande was a featured cast member in the 2009 short film I Am, directed by Elyssa Claudio.
Ms. Casagrande also writes for her school newspaper and maintains a class schedule that includes both AP and honors program courses. As a freshman at Pingry, she received the Sawzoli Dance Award. In 2011, she attended the National Association of Independent Schools’ Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.