Drama’s back, and students are ready to act

Play marks return of theater program

Junior Sam Resendez and senior Kayla Kern rehearse

Alexandrea Groters munched on an apple. Sam Resendez walked on his knees and prepared to stand up dramatically, and Israel Juarez-Perez flopped on the floor. Other cast members rehearsing the play “Honor Bright” practiced their own parts onstage, within a half-circle created by 13 traditional school desks.

This story is part of the State of the Arts series highlighting the value of arts programs to students’ creative development and academic success. 

If You’re Going
What: Performance of the play “Honor Bright”
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19
Where: Kelloggsville High School, 4787 S. Division Ave.

Things were coming together. After five years without a program and, now, with a renovated auditorium, a stockpile of props pulled from storage and two enthusiastic new hires, Kelloggsville  High School theater has been resurrected.

The district, which spent the last few years on construction and renovation at the high school, had closed the curtains on the theater program. But it’s showtime once again.

Sixteen students are learning the ropes of play production, from character development to improvisation, while rehearsing to put on the school’s first play under new directors. “Honor Bright” is scheduled to be performed May 18 and 19 at Kelloggsville High School.

Senior Alexandrea Groters peeks over her script

“My brother and sister had both gone through Kelloggsville and were in theater. I always loved going to the plays and musicals,” said Alexandrea the apple-crunching senior, who was one of the first students to sign up for theater. The program started in September with an after-school drama club. “It’s just fun; it gives me something else to do,” he added.

Students and directors are learning as they go. English teacher Shannon Dahlquist and social studies teacher Jeff Malinowski, both new hires this year, were asked to restart the program, though neither has a background in drama or performing arts, aside from Malinowski’s roles in theater as a high school student.

“What’s been challenging is we don’t have much experience so we are learning on our feet, but we’ve had a lot of student interest,” Dahlquist said. “What’s been really exciting is to see how excited the students are. They don’t have any experience, but they are willing to try and jump in with both feet.”

The fledgling troupe is starting small. “Honor Bright,” by Alan Haehnel, is about students contemplating cheating in school. The cast is performing just one 45-minute act.

Junior Sam Resendez plays a character who faces a tough decision

More Plays to Come

Future plans are to perform a fall play and spring musical each year. A drama elective class, to be taught by Dahlquist, is also starting in the fall, with about 75 students signed up for two sessions.

Alexandrea said she’s already learned how to “bring out my sass more” in playing Robin, a cheeky character. “I’ve learned more about trying to act a certain way, trying to make my emotions show.”

Jackson Johnson, a freshman who plays a character named Brian, said it’s nice to have a chance to perform.

“It’s a way to express yourself without being judged and you can be whatever you want to be. It’s a good escape,” Jackson said. “I noticed that the key is emotion and how you present yourself. You have to discard who you are and become this new person in the play, which is kind of cool because it’s being someone else.”

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Sophomore Israel Juarez-Perez flops on the floor during play rehearsal
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. Besides covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network, she writes freelance for the travel industry. Read Erin's full bio

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