With remote learning dominating the 2020-2021 school year for Flossmoor School District 161, Parker Junior High School decided to shine the spotlight on its theater program virtually at the end of the semester.
During the Jan. 4 regular board meeting, board members and administrators applauded the students and teachers for their efforts. The Fall Virtual Theater Showcase, a Dec. 11 program that aired seven short films, raised $2,325 for Make-A-Wish Illinois in the process.
“It was incredible, absolutely incredible,” Superintendent Dana Smith said of the program.
A total of 57 students broke into small groups to write, produce, direct, act, edit and compose for their own films under a theme of “hope and perseverance.” While Parker Junior High teachers Lauren Rupert and Emily Nicotra helped the program along the way, they said it was truly driven by the students. That included the fundraiser, with students voting to raise money for Make-A-Wish Illinois in lieu of ticket sales.
“We were absolutely thrilled with how it all came together,” Rupert said.
Board Member Stephen Paredes called it all “super-fantastic” to know the students were the force behind this. And he said he is happy it is archived and available for viewing on YouTube.
“This is like a dream come true for marketing for people to move here to our schools,” he said.
Smith added that it was nice to see some children who might have been timid in the past highlighted during this program. Nicotra added this year’s spin on the show gave students the chance to showcase their video editing skills, which typically have not been needed in the theater program.
“Because we were virtual, we were able to get a different subset of kids,” she said.
Board President Michelle Hoereth said it was great to see programs reaching out in new ways to students who otherwise might not have taken part.
“Being remote has given a whole new meaning to accessibility and inclusion,” she said.
The student participants were:
London Abron, Nia Allen, Camila Almaraz, Nathaniel Appelt, Marcus Argue, Sofia Bilgi, Violet Bivens, Jarad Bray, Natalie Castagna, Vivian Clark, Abigail Cunneen, Maleeyah Daggett, Jenielle DeBoer, Katherine Douglas, Isaac Griggs, Rachel Griggs, Douwe Groen.
David Hayes, Stella Hoyt, Jabriya Jennings, Kennedi Johnson, Liori Jordan, Madyson Keelan, Joseph Klauk, Harry Komorowski, Nikolai Lawrence, Tamia Mack, Kayla Manzara, Flannery Marak, Vianney Martinez, Keyeh Marvel, Kaydon Mayo, Syenna Mayo.
Marcus McGhee, Sapphira Meyers, Courtney Moore, Anaya Mootry, Sabrina Murray, Kamryn Nelson, Eleanor O'Shea, Mollie Philbin, Julianne Posey, Xiiyaire Pulliam, Angelina Rivero, Kennedy Rowlett, Zavier Scott, Reagan Seye, Safa Siddiqui, Casey Siengo, Cheyenne Smith, Amira Sylvain, Everett Van Til, Satiya Viner, Trevor Washington, Caitlyn Williams and Shanell Zuno.
Rupert said they are looking forward to starting theater again in the spring.