The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

More Than a Musical: Performing Helps Students On and Off the Stage

Many drama students find theater to be a fun escape, and, additionally, something to help them focus.
Photo by Leila Siegel
Many drama students find theater to be a fun escape, and, additionally, something to help them focus.

When people hear the words “high school theater program”, they may start thinking of “High School Musical”. However, theater is more than a bunch of kids singing about how they are all in this together, while wearing trendy clothes and performing professionally choreographed dances.

WJ has a successful theater program, having two productions each year, but the program goes deeper than just presenting entertaining plays. Theater can also help students in other parts of their lives.  According to the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, students involved in dramatic performance at their school scored higher on their SATs than students not involved in theater. The drama participants averaged 65 points higher on the verbal component and 34 points higher in the math component than non-drama students.  Also, the Center for Arts Education published a 2009 study showing that public schools in New York with the highest dropout rates were the schools with the weakest arts programs, suggesting a correlation between arts participation and staying in school.

Play rehearsals provide a source of fun and comraderie after school. Some participants in S*T*A*G*E identify acting and singing as their primary extracurricular activity and may even plan on pursuing it as a career. Junior Mandy Spiwak has been participating in WJ S*T*A*G*E since her freshman year when she worked on the crew for the fall play and S*T*A*G*E is one her major extracurricular activities.

“[Theater] is definitely one of the main things I’m part of,” said Spiwak.“We’re just a really big family, and I love being a part of it; all my friends are there,” she said.

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S*T*A*G*E is also something that helps her pay more attention in school.

“I have something to look forward to at the end of the day by having rehearsal and hang[ing] out with friends, so it keeps me a lot more focused and energized to get through the day,” said Spiwak.

English and theater teacher Colleen McAdory, who has been directing WJ’s plays since 1992, said acting helps students develop real-life skills.

“[I like] watching people grow as individuals because of what they’re learning as actors,” said McAdory.

She said on average, five to 10 people from WJ go on to pursue careers in acting or singing. McAdory said theater can help students in other areas of their lives.

“[Acting] teaches discipline; it teaches people to get to know themselves,” said McAdory. She encourages everyone to take part in theater, saying it can help them in ways other than improving their acting skills. 

“Everyone can benefit from it, I have a few students in my theater class right now who are very shy,” said McAdory. “They’re doing [theater] because they think it will help come out of themselves and to be different.”

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About the Contributor
Leila Siegel, Online Feature Editor
This is senior Leila Siegel’s second year on The Pitch Online as the Online Feature Editor. Besides writing articles, Leila participates in the school’s symphonic orchestra and WJ S*T*A*G*E’s pit orchestra. She is also involved in the Black Student Union, Amnesty International club and the Read, Grow, Live Club. In her spare time, Leila enjoys sleeping and watching Netflix. She is excited to see what this year will bring to The Pitch Online. [email protected]
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