His HORIZON YOUTH THEATRE PROJECT, a collaboration of student-written and student-directed plays, is the recipient of a $1,000 grant from the San Gorgonio Education Foundation, which was awarded at the January 26 Banning school board meeting.
According to Waedekin, building an ensemble is the key to this project. “I hope to encourage teens to be responsible to the larger group, rather than thinking of the needs of their own. If everyone’s focus is towards the group, they can help, support, encourage and challenge each other.”
Also, Waedekin reports, “Ensemble practice fosters a collective ownership of the art: believing in actors as creative, as well as interpretive artists; because of its focus on inclusivity and collaboration, all members of an ensemble develop a sense of the whole … performers can take greater risks and experience greater growth, knowing that the ensemble develop a sense of the whole … performers can take greater risks and experience greater growth, knowing that the ensemble will catch them if they fall.”
Funds include a budget for sets, costumes, T-shirts with the program’s logo, and a field trip to experience a live performance of EVITA at Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs.
New Horizons senior Ryan LaCasse is excited about the afterschool program. “It will give students in our situation (those attending a continuation school) a chance we normally don’t get.”
LaCasse hopes that their short plays “will give people an idea of what we go through every day, and how we look at life.”
Continuation high schools provide education alternatives for students who may be at-risk of not graduating at normal pace; some students are the breadwinners at home, and work jobs that affect either ability to attend school; others may be behind due to family situations, illnesses, or other incidents that disrupt their participation in a traditional high school environment.
Another student in the program, Katelynn Tate, is grateful to have the new drama program. “A theatre program at different type of school, makes me happy, and creates a sense of normalcy for students at a school like New Horizons,” Tate says.
“This will offer an opportunity to express our true selves,” says student Katie Pewitt.
Student Stephanie Hosking looks forward to using the experience beyond high school. “I would love to be an actor,” she says. “I look forward to participating in the process after graduation. This will give me the insight I’ll need to get acting jobs.”
Simply put, as student Yulissa Rangel Valdez puts it, “I hope someday this will help make me famous.”
The Horizon Youth Theatre Project was one of a handful of programs applying for funds from the San Gorgonio Education Foundations’ second-ever grant distribution, which also received significant support from the Sun Lakes Charitable Trust, and the San Gorgonio Pass Round Table.
“It’s going to impact so many students beyond even those who work on these plays,” says education foundation grant committee chairwoman Gae Rusk. “Those who come to enjoy and experience the end product – it’s an organic project that reflects an A-plus teacher.”
The project was selected by a majority decision of judges from the community, who included city councilwoman Debbie Franklin; retired university professor Muriell Garbo; retired educator Juanita Sibole; retired teacher and school librarian – and education foundation board member – Betty Meltzer; and Morongo School past principal Mason Patterson.
Staff writer David James Heiss is president of the San Gorgonio Education Foundation, and a member of the San Gorgonio Pass Round Table.
According to Math instructor Ms. Darlene Purcell, “Junior Achievement inspires and prepares young people to succeed in a global economy, and that’s why I brought it to New Horizons High School for a special afterschool program.”
Junior Achievement Sparks Student Success and to date, JA will impact over 4.6 million U.S. students in more than 201,000 classrooms during 2015-2016.
As high school students begin to position themselves for their future, there are many unanswered questions about what lies ahead. Junior Achievement’s high school programs help students make informed, intelligent decisions about their future, and foster skills that will be highly useful in the business world.
JA Graduation Pathways creates opportunities for students to achieve by providing multiple JA experiences throughout a student’s academic career. Developed to address the region’s critical drop-out rates, this initiative couples proven programs and dedicated volunteers to inspire kids to stay in school. The core content and consistent reinforcement of students’ abilities helps lay the foundation for long-term academic success.
Ms. Purcell arranged for JA Community Representative Anne Oliver, also an alumni herself and one of the first students to be involved in JA to teach sessions with such topics as “Career Success” and “Career Finance.” In addition, Oliver is a member ot The Inland Empire Chapter of SCORE which provides counseling services to the small business community in 2007. Popular in large California cities and growing in Inland Empire, New Horizons is actually one of very few high schools east of Los Angeles currently incorporating JA.