Pathways for all

New-found theater pathway gives SHS students another graduation option


Skylar Greulich

Theater teacher Kimberly Roberts demonstrates a game for her Theatre Arts I class on Aug. 26. Roberts explained the dog bone game for her class.

For performing arts students who aren’t looking into the Academic Honors or Technical Honors Diploma pathways to graduate, a new theater pathway is available.

There are three steps that students have to complete in order to graduate. The first is to meet the standard 40 credits and curricular requirements. The second is “Learn and Demonstrate Employability Skills.” This is where volunteering hours from clubs and organizations come in. Lastly, the third is “Postsecondary-Ready Competencies.”

There are many ways to complete this section as the state gave many options. The first is an Honors Diploma. If a student meets the criteria for either Academic or Technical Honors, they have completed this section of graduation requirement. If a student gets a a minimum score for the ACT, SAT or ASVAB, they are qualified for this section.

Another way for students to complete this part is to take three A.P. or D.C. classes with a grade of at least a C. For students who do not fit any of these requirements, they have the option to take “Career-Technical Education Concentrator.” This is where students can take career pathways such as “Human Services I and II or “Accounting I and II.”

The part where the theater pathway comes is through “Locally Created Pathway.” To give students more options, the district of Perry Township got approval for students to qualify through fine arts credits such as theater, choir, band and orchestra. By taking the SHS sequence of classes that are in the fine arts department, students can qualify for “Career-Technical Education Concentrator.”

In simpler terms, this pathway is created for students who don’t plan on graduating with honors and need another way to graduate.

“This is kind of a backup, as far as I understand it, for maybe people who need to prove they had a pathway to graduate,” theater teacher Kimberly Roberts said.

The first course offered in the theater department is Theatre Arts I. This class is an introduction to theater where students learn the basics of reading scripts, acting, directing and to perform for their own classmates.

“We start with improvisation, move into acting with scripts, we do a little bit of directing, a little of technical work, a little bit of design, so, it sort of gives them a taste of several different things,” Roberts said.

Theatre Arts II is the next step. This class is where students take what they learn in Theatre Arts I and perform it for several different audiences besides their own classmates. One of their biggest projects is turning the stories that the fifth grade students at Homecroft Elementary wrote into a play. The fifth graders will then come over at the end of the semester to watch their stories come to life on stage. Many students took Theatre Arts I as an elective to get their fine arts credits, and a lot of them continued onto Theatre Arts II.

“I took this class as an elective last year because I just need the fine arts credit, but I started to love theater, so I took it again,” sophomore Keyona Graham said.

The next step is up to the students. They can either go into technical, production or even both.

In technical theatre, students support other students who are performers by working backstage. Behind the scenes, technical students help set everything up for the shows by designing, painting and building sets.

Senior Madelyn Sage paints a sign for the fall musical on Sept. 6. Theatre Production is in the process of creating ways to promote the musical. (Astrid Gojko)

These students are crucial to the success of the show. In production, students promote and advertise the upcoming shows where they create and design signs. They even run the social media account for the theater. The students also write a 10-minute play that is performed in the auditorium like a musical.

“It’s more of like the marketing side of theater so like they’re creating signs, we have a frame that we put out in the parking lot that advertises whatever show we’re doing,” Roberts said.

The last step is the Monologue Musical Theater class, also known as “Theatre Arts Special Topics” which is only available for senior students. This class prepares students who are interested in continuing towards the field of theater outside of high school. Students in this class build their resumes, take headshots and learn the fundamentals of auditions for college programs. Even for students who aren’t interested in continuing towards this pathway, they still learn a great deal of skills for life as the class consists of preparing for interviews and more.

One of the features about this class is that by the end of the year, students are given the opportunity to be evaluated by the Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance Performance at Ball State University, Bill Jenkins, and the Music and Education Director at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, Brent Marty. Gaining feedback from professionals could really straighten the future of these performing art students.

Although many students believe that this monologue class is new, it was always there. The last time this class was held was before the pandemic in 2020. Because of the pandemic, the theater department was isolated from their students for almost a year and a class where interactions are a necessity could no longer be held. This change lost the interest of many students.

“I had a group of seniors, but there just were not enough of them, and I think it’s simply because of the pandemic,” Roberts said. “We would have probably had enough if that hadn’t happen, but it did so, it just kind of wiped us out.”

Having the option to go hybrid or take online classes during the pandemic instead of going to actual classes in school had many seniors resorting to staying at home.

Due to the class not having enough seniors, the theater department had no choice but to stop the class. The school is getting back on its feet though, and the monologue class is back.

There was always a pathway for theater, as it is required, but this year, everything is fixed to be clear and easy for students to understand. All the classes explained are available next year for the pathway.

For students who are interested in joining the field of theater and the pathway, the doors are always open.

Senior Luka Maga prepares paint in Technical Theatre on Sept. 1. Currently, Technical Theatre is working on building props and stage sets for the fall musical. (Josiah Veen)