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Homegrown Mountaineer: Justus Wheatley's Journey from West Orange High School to Carnegie Mellon University


Max Shadow 05.06.24

Justus Wheatley, a graduating senior from the Class of 2024, has left a memorable mark on his school's community, particularly through his passion for musical theatre. As he prepares to embark on a new chapter at Carnegie Mellon University, we take a closer look at his journey, influences, and aspirations.

From his early days at St. Cloud Elementary to his formative years at Roosevelt Middle School, Justus has been a constant presence in the West Orange Public School system. However, it was during his time at West Orange High School that his passion for musical theatre truly flourished. Despite initially declining an audition request from a friend, Maria Nalieth, Justus found himself captivated by a school production, sparking a deep-seated passion for the stage that would only grow stronger with time.


Throughout his high school years, Justus distinguished himself as a versatile performer, participating in every choir the school offered and taking on challenging roles such as the "Leading Player" in Pippin and "Danny Zuko" in Grease. His involvement in the Tri-M (Music Modern Masters) Honor Society further demonstrates his commitment to musical excellence.


When asked about his most influential teacher, Justus credits Dr. Farley for taking him under his wing and providing numerous opportunities for growth. Justus also cherishes the memory of his final bow in Pippin, a moment that symbolized leaving a lasting impact on his high school and solidifying his love for performing.


Transitioning to Carnegie Mellon University for a degree in musical theatre represents a significant milestone for Justus. He looks forward to the school's rigorous training in storytelling and the welcoming environment it offers. Justus is excited to focus on his passion without the distractions of unrelated courses, knowing that this prestigious institution will further his growth as a performer.

As he prepares for this next chapter, Justus reflects on what he will miss most about West Orange High School. For him, it's the sense of home he found through the arts, a sentiment that speaks volumes about his love for performing and the community that supported him.

Beyond his passion for the arts, Justus enjoys spending time at the gym, chilling with friends, attending church, and traveling. His advice to aspiring performers is to persevere through moments of doubt, knowing that dedication and practice are key to achieving their dreams.

Looking ahead, Justus dreams of a long career in musical theatre, hoping to bring joy and laughter to audiences worldwide. His dream roles include Fiyero in Wicked, Nick Bottom in Something Rotten, and Orpheus in Hadestown, with the ultimate goal of receiving a Tony award.

As Justus prepares to take the stage at Carnegie Mellon University, his journey from a "Homegrown Mountaineer" to a promising talent in musical theatre serves as an inspiration to all young performers with big dreams.