“Stretch Run” Lies Ahead … Birds Reflections

By Reed Gabhart, Head of the Goshen Campus8thPlanet_2

After a long (and much needed!) Spring Break, we returned Monday and the kids were brimming over with excitement. We talked at Morning Meeting at how fast the final seven weeks will go! It is an action-packed time of the year, as much as the beginning of the school year is, but will fly by, leading to saying goodbye to our 8th graders at another memorable Goshen Campus Graduation and final assembly. In the next week alone, we have a Buddy Day, an 8th grade field trip, a track meet, the We Day community service celebration, outdoor education trips to Mammoth Cave for our 5th and 7th grades, and preparations for our Middle School Talent Show! Wow. I’m sure there’s more tucked away in the calendar, but that’s enough for now!

I wanted to take a look back at our very unique spring Drama Project production of Aristophanes’ The Birds. I would estimate about 550 people saw these four productions and were highly entertained by the combination of ancient (yet prescient) lines, highly colorful costumes (complete with beaks and wings), modern music, and fourth-wall breaking comedy. The kids dancing passionately at curtain call after each show was one of my favorite moments. This year at our cast party, I asked the actors and crew members to write a reflection on either the show or their experience doing SFS drama. This was optional and not something I do every year, but I was so impressed at the care and sentiment put into their comments. Here are some highlights:

“I’ve been at St. Francis only one year, but I’ve never seen and received the same amount of kindness and joy in any other school. This drama program has taught me so much about acting, as well as bonded me with a very special group of people … the only thing I wish could have been different is how long I spent here. I wish I could’ve arrived at this amazing place much earlier than I did.”
Colleen Torrans

“I’ve never been a part of something where everyone is like a huge family, and I really, absolutely mean it. I was so happy to get to be a part of the play working on costumes.”
Bennett Middendorf

“Throughout my time in the St. Francis Drama program, I have tried out for every play except one. While I did not make it into all of them, those that I did accepted me with open arms. I have met some wonderful people that have become lifelong friends. I have been part of a loving community that I am almost unwilling to leave. The Birds was my last play in the SFS Drama program and it was one of the best. I feel as if I am wanted and needed in this wonderful school.”
Sean Denham

“I’ve had an amazing four years on the St. Francis stage. I’ve made so many memories. I found my love of acting here, and it will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Amelia Dimas

“This year I had the opportunity of being in The Birds. I had a blast! The dances were great and colorful. Throughout rehearsals and performances the cast started to feel like one big family; laughing, doing vocal warm-ups, and ‘flying’ together.”
Natalie Stewart

“From the start I knew this experience would be awesome, but I didn’t know it would be EXTRAORDINARY! This experience has been amazing, from learning more about theater to making new friends. Even though it was a little tiring at first, I can’t describe how much the past couple of months have been worth it!”
Lily Gilbert

The SFS Drama program really started and sparked my passion for the arts. I have really found my voice and my love on this stage. SFS offered me a comfortable, brilliant, acting experience … SFS drama is my favorite experience and I am excited to see future shows.”
Caroline Frederick

“The Birds was a really unique show. It was very fun to be in. It allowed everyone to express their colorful creativity because we made our own masks and costumes. I LOVED IT! We will miss Mr. Church next year!”
Audrey McClain

I love and appreciate words such as family, comfortable, fun, bonding, and kindness that the kids used to describe this show and program. They are very reminiscent of the SFS mission statement. I was honored to work on this play with this great group of Middle School kids and Lon Church.  And, Audrey, we will all miss Mr. Church next year as he and family head home to Minnesota. But the many wonderful memories will remain!