Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2008

De Soto High School performing arts deserve better

November 19, 2008

I attended De Soto High School’s final dress rehearsal Nov. 11 for the fall musical, “Bye, Bye Birdie.” The cast and crew did an excellent job and their hard work during the rehearsal process was evident by their performances.

During a scene change in Act II while a flat was lowered by a wench to provide the backdrop for the next scene, the wench failed and the scenery came crashing down, hitting another set piece, but luckily missing the cast and crew.

This incident brings to light safety concerns with the inadequate facilities that the performing arts at DHS have to endure. If DHS had the adequate facilities to put on a full-scale musical, this would not be an issue. But because USD 232 patrons do not support the arts and provide the proper facilities for the community to enjoy their performances, the cast and crew were subject to an unnecessary risk. This is not the fault of the directors; Mr. Hileman and Mrs. Copeland have put great safety precautions in place for the health and safety of all performers and crew members backstage. The fault falls squarely on the shoulders of the patrons of this district.

As a former student of USD 232 and De Soto High School, I know first hand the inadequacies of the facilities available to the performing arts in this district. And now as an alum, patron and taxpayer, I know that in these uncertain economic times most people probably consider a new performing arts center to be wasteful spending. But I must counter that argument with a look at the latest bond issue that was approved by district voters. While the drama room and scene shop additions and renovations are greatly needed, those relatively small changes are overshadowed by the enormous addition and expansion that will be made to the athletics wing of the building: a new weight room, auxiliary gym, a new wrestling room, expanded lockers, and two new physical education/health classrooms.

Every space in a school is a classroom; the education of students does not stop when they push their chairs under the desk. The new PE/Health classrooms will provide a permanent home to those teachers who up until now were teaching in a classroom that was not their own. The new auxiliary gym is new place where the fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle will be laid on new future students.

District patrons have to realize is that a theater, just like a gymnasium, is a classroom. It provides students who are interested in a career in the arts the space and chance to learn early the basic elements needed to be successful in such a demanding field. It is a learning environment where students learn and work to perfect their respective crafts; the singer learning how it feels to be in front of a large audience and the actor learning the basics of movement on stage that will help her succeed.

Those two students are exactly like others in the gym perfecting their jump shot in preparation for the scout who might be at the next game, or the football player using the weight room to stay in peak physical shape so that he might perform better at a prospective college’s summer camp.

I find it very disheartening when we live in an age when we tell our students that “everyone is equal.” it seems blatantly obvious that USD 232 patrons see those students who are shooting free-throws in the gym as more worthy of their tax dollars than those rehearsing for a musical.

So the next time you attend a performance of any kind at De Soto High

School and see and hear the students showcasing their amazing talents in instrumental music, vocal music or a dramatic performance, I hope you feel as I do that these remarkable students deserve a facility that is able to handle the caliber of performance that you have seen time and time again from the students at De Soto High School.

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