The inside of The Winchendon School’s Trustee Hall will be transformed on Monday afternoons as young budding thespians will be stretching their limbs and warming their vocal cords as they learn about theater in a free afterschool program. TWS students Abby (’19) and Isabella (’18) will be leading area elementary students through guided discovery, and theater exercises. The afternoon sessions will culminate with a showcase production at the end of the yearlong project.
Co-directors of the program, Isabella, a four-year senior, and Abby chose to develop the program due to their own love of theater. The two met at The Winchendon School and a fast friendship formed as the two have performed in shows from A MidSummer’s Night Dream and High School Musical to this year’s upcoming production of Fiddler on the Roof.
“Part of our motivation for offering this free afterschool program,” said Isabella, “is because not everyone gets the same opportunity to learn about theater at a young age. I wasn’t exposed to theater until I was older. The Service Learning program here (at TWS) gives us the opportunity to really pursue what we’re passionate about in a new way.”
Theater by its nature, is an art form that depends on collaboration, one of the Great Eight core values at TWS. Theater raises SAT scores, reading comprehension, and stimulates innovation and creativity. “In short,” says Abby, “we want to be sure the community has an opportunity to learn valuable life skills through theater.”
Service Learning Immersion
At TWS students are immersed in a yearlong Service Learning project of their choosing. Projects are designed by student Service Learning Leaders and we believe Service Learning provides perhaps the most effective “classroom” where we can practice these attributes, and serve our community as well.
Abby and Isabella’s Theater for Change is like a theatrical production itself. From writing the “script” for their project to directing the weekly afterschool meetings, the two are responsible for their own growth as leaders and are empathetic towards young students who may just be developing the courage to stand on stage for the first time.
With their own talent and experience, Abby and Isabella could easily take center stage in the planned end of year showcase, but they realize their afterschool club members need to discover their own “voice.” They understand the end production may not be perfect, but they won’t mind. “It’s not about perfection but about learning to evolve through the process,” says Abby. “Our goal is to get them out of their comfort zone.”