SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 8, 2013

Column: Drama club brings literacy to the sta

Benjamin Chertok
The Salem News

---- — Students at Nathaniel Bowditch School have much to look forward to in the month of March. It’s “Music in our Schools” month, as well as Dr. Seuss’ birthday. And what better way to celebrate both than with the school’s own drama club performing the musical “Seussical”? In addition to the three evening performances, students have worked with the school literacy teachers and recently performed at a schoolwide literacy night. Students dressed in Seuss costumes, performed selections from the show and read Dr. Seuss stories to the evening’s audience members. There were Seuss activities and even photo opportunities.

The show features 51 students spanning grades five through eight with a special appearance by one of our very own faculty members! That’s roughly 25 percent of students in those grade levels, or roughly 10 percent of the entire school population.

The students have been rehearsing since November after school and spent their December and February vacation weeks building and painting the scenery. This all ties into real-life application of the learning that takes place during the school day. Students extend lessons learned in the classroom to real-life application in areas ranging from the literacy required to read a script, to the mathematical and engineering skills needed to create sets that are durable, compact and moveable, to the artistic and musical skills required to bring a story to life. Additionally, Candy Gold, a Broadway producer and local/children’s theater director, came to workshop with the students about theatrical experiences and character development.

We asked students how drama club moved or changed them. Here are a couple of responses:

“Drama club to me has been a passion. It has let me let loose and forget about all the struggles, such as school sports teams and family issues. Once I am on that stage doing what I like to do, my mind goes blank and all the troubles that I’m having fade away. I feel like a whole different person. It brings me so much joy. Even when I have had people make fun of me for being in the drama club, I still return year after year after year, not only because I enjoy singing, dancing and acting but because it lets me be me.”

“Since joining drama club, I have learned so much about theater, music, dancing and doing something I love. It introduced me into a world of passion and fun that I never knew existed. If I hadn’t joined, I wouldn’t have known about the magic that can happen when people who love the same thing come together to create a story. I don’t regret a single minute of it. Drama club has helped me realize what I want to do with my life.”

We are very fortunate to have those in the community who help us mount our shows. It is absolutely wonderful that parents donate their time to work side-by-side with their children during our vacation scenery builds. Additionally, the local businesses and families who support us by donating resources to fund this program continues to positively overwhelm us!

All in all, more than 75 people have come together (including students, faculty, families and friends) to help bring this production to life! SHS freshman and Bowditch alumna Caylee Post designed the scenery, and SHS alumna Kim Masse designed and directed the choreography for the show. The program is almost entirely student-run. They are encouraged from the get-go to take ownership of the process so that they may reap the benefits of their hard work paying off.

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Benjamin Chertok is director of the Bowditch School Drama Club. This is one in a series of columns from the Community Advisory Board for the Salem schools.

If you go What: "Seussical" When: Thursday, March 14, and Friday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 16, at 12:30 p.m. Tickets: $5 reserved. For more information, call 978-740-1290, ext. 207, or email benjaminchertok@salemk12.org.