More on a recent question from a New Jersey newcomer about fun, safe activities for Union County teens:
An e-mail from Judi Abbott of Waxhaw points to the fun of seeing a school play – and also taking part.
The experience can get even better when it's an original play, such as the one that will be produced and performed next weekend by Union Academy charter school's production class.
The play is “And Then the Giants Fell,” written by Union Academy theater teacher Todd Ford, who teaches the class that's staging the play. One of his students is Judi's daughter Nicole, a sophomore at Union Academy.
Not only will the play feature high school students as cast and crew, it's likely to attract other teens to Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts for the performance on Oct. 17-18.
Judi told me Todd “was encouraged to pursue publishing and production by a published playwright who visited Union Academy last year.” She thought I might be interested in “in a different type of story about a local playwright realizing a goal.”
Todd told me that performing the play is a way to detect its strengths and weaknesses, so he can improve it before getting it published.
He wrote “And Then the Giants Fell” about the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It was an idea he had been “tossing around” for a while, he said, but he finally put it down on paper last year while his students were tackling their own play-writing assignments, he said.
“I was teaching at Monroe Middle School when (the attacks) happened,” he said. “When the first impact occurred, we had the news on in our classroom, so we were watching the footage….
I feel like a lot of people never really completely reflected and healed from that event.”
And that – reflecting and healing – is the foundation for the play.
The play has four parts, he says: what a terrorist's thoughts might have been, a widow and how she reacts to the loss of a husband, the breaking of the Ten Commandments, and “how people were transformed by (the event), from fear to having hope…” he said.
The performance at Benton Heights Elementary is 7 p.m. Oct. 17-18. A comedy, “This is a Test” by Stephen Gregg, also will be performed. Admission is $3 for students, $5 for adults.
Another e-mail wondered about high school dances, particularly at Marvin Ridge High. The mother of a student, who asked that her name not be used, wanted to know why Marvin Ridge wasn't having a homecoming dance when other schools – Weddington and Porter Ridge – were.
A quick call to the school found Principal Bill Cook puzzled by the question.
“We do have dances,” he said, explaining that the school holds a winter formal and the junior-senior prom every year.
The fact that there is no homecoming dance this year – or last – is in part because Marvin Ridge will graduate its first class of seniors in 2009. So homecoming doesn't have the same impact here that it may have at other schools.
“There are other things we're doing in lieu of a homecoming dance,” he said, citing an upcoming tailgate party and pep rally, along with a school-wide celebration of last year's test scores.
But the biggest reason the school doesn't hold more dances is because such activities are “left up to the student council,” he said. He said the school has surveyed students and found that very few were interested in additional dances.
“Our students, I think, have done an outstanding job of choosing events,” he said. “…And at some point, I'm confident the student council will choose to do a dance.”