On Friday evening I had the opportunity to attend the McCord Middle School Theatre Company’s production of Oliver which was held in the Kilbourne Middle School Auditorium. Wow! I was totally blown away by the sheer level of talent in this performance. Had I not known I was witnessing a middle school production I would have never believed that the students in this play were 13 and 14 years old. It was really, really awesome!
Our McCord Theatre Company is under the direction of McCord teacher, Janet Hale. The production is not only produced by Janet but is almost entirely financed by Janet and her husband Judge Harland Hale. McCord teachers Sean Clark and Tricia Palko served as acting directors and Thomas Worthington Choir teacher Jerry Parsons served as the musical director. McCord teacher Randy Ross built the sets and ticket sales were handled by McCord teachers Becky Stratis and Monica Andryc. As you can see it was a group effort.
I have several observations:
First, Janet Hale is truly amazing and one of a kind. Not only did she devote hundreds of hours to allow kids this opportunity, she literally spent thousands of her own dollars to make it happen. Seriously, I am in awe of her dedication to kids!
Second, After the show, which was their second and final performance, Mrs. Hale spoke about each of the performers. The students sat patiently on the stage and listened to her words. They smiled, they joked with each other, and some walked up to whisper in Mrs. Hale’s ear and remind her of things. It was obvious that there was a tremendous amount of mutual respect between the students and the staff and between the staff and the students. This is an educational relationship at it’s best and most productive.
Third, nights like Friday were why I became an educator 19 years ago. Academic achievement is our core mission, but I got into this business in an effort to make a long-term positive difference in the lives of students and in a community. I had no part in Friday night, but I witnessed a team of teachers and administrators from McCord that through their hard work and/or support allowed students to shine. I believe that many of these students will remember this experience for the rest of their lives. I suspect that for a few of these students the path of their life may have been altered in a positive way by this experience. I’m proud of our staff at McCord for their extra effort and their support of kids.
Finally, several years ago we went through the incredibly painful process of merging McCord Middle School with Perry Middle School. This move, along with staffing shifts saved the school district close to a million dollars. At the time there was a great deal of concern about the size of McCord. It currently sits at 482 students and next year may hit 520 or so. But, the size has positives and this production is one of them. There are enough students at McCord with interests in theatre to be able to offer a production and an experience like Friday night. Economies of Scale can be a good thing.
The next time the McCord Theatre Company puts on a show, you’ll want to be there!