‘Keeping her legacy alive’

Although faculty and students are mourning, SHS administration is working to find a plan for the theater department


Johnny Romo

Choir teacher Jaclyn Richardson and auditorium director Austin Lundsford work with the musical cast while rehearsing for “Zombie Prom.”

The Monday after Thanksgiving break did not look like any ordinary morning at SHS. The morning began with tears and heartbreak due to the recent passing of theater teacher, Kimberly Roberts.

It was so weird. Just walking into her room was such a devastating moment for everyone,” junior Lexi Nix said. “Seeing her stuff and everything that we’ve all been through in there, all the memories kind of fled in, and all of the emotions hit when we realized it’s real.”

Roberts passed away last Friday, Nov. 25 from complications due to chemotherapy. Although faculty and students alike are mourning her loss, there still remain questions about what the future holds for the theater department due to this unexpected tragedy. 

Currently, the goal is to find a new teacher as soon as possible. In the meantime, the plan is to have a substitute in room 118. Principal Brian Knight says that the objective is to continue the work that Roberts put into place. 

“I think when we have those types of vacancies or holes, the goal is to impact the course as little as possible,” Knight said, “and trying to find a way to keep all of the good things going on down there going.”

Junior Lexi Nix talks to her classmates during her theatre production class on Thursday, Dec. 1. The class has been working with a substitute while Knight looks for a new theatre teacher. photo by Grace Elder

Choir teacher Jaclyn Richardson and auditorium director Austin Lundsford say they hope to accomplish this as well. They plan to honor Roberts by finishing out the year without changing any of the plans. 

This means they will continue with One Acts, Tea With A Princess, the spring play and the International Thespian Society inductions. The hope is that not changing the plans for this year will provide the students with a sense of consistency.

“So, it’s a process helping them to realize that we can’t let the program suffer because of this,” Lundsford said. “She would not have wanted that.”

In the meantime, having Lundsford in the theater room until Knight is able to find someone to fill the position is the goal. He provides a familiar face to the students while also being able to understand the system in place.

The current objective is not to create a study hall or cancel anything. Knight says things might slow down due to the circumstances, but the hope is to not let this impact the program Roberts worked so hard to build.

 “There are a lot of adults and kids in this building who take a lot of pride in what goes on down there,” Knight said. “The last thing we want to do is remove that sense of connectedness, ownership and sense of community that the theater department creates.”

A vital part of nurturing the family aspect in the department is Richardson and Lundsford making themselves available to not only help, but also to be there for emotional support.

Administrators at SHS have been trying to provide that emotional support as well. This week they have sent counselors and specialists to performing arts classes to help students who have been

Roberts fixes the blocking on stage for the cast members. This was one of their earlier rehearsals for the musical. photo by Grace Elder

impacted by this tragedy. 

Richardson hopes to convey the message that although Roberts is not here physically, the impact she left on the program can continue on. 

“And, I don’t want to say checking them a little bit but reminding them that, yes, Roberts was the director, but the things she put in this program, the heart and the life she breathed into it, are here because of them,” Richardson said. “And, they are responsible for not destroying that and keeping her legacy alive. They are her legacy. It’s not the room.”