NORWALK - It's been a long road for the drama students of John Glenn High School.From months of summer rehearsals to a string of successful stage productions, the talented group of juniors and seniors has tackled every challenge set before them this school year including a competitive state contest last month. For the first time John Glenn submitted a play in the California State Thespian Festival and the students' entry, "Children of A Lesser God," earned them first prize. "It's an accomplishment, they feel accomplished," said Pat McLoy, nine-year theater teacher at John Glenn. "They never thought they'd be there. There were a lot of tears, a lot of bonding...they put their heart, mind and fingers into this project." While his students continue to celebrate their top honors, McLoy and other community leaders are scrabbling to raise the nearly $6,000 needed to fund the trip to the upcoming national Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska where theater students from nearly 120 high schools around the country will compete. From improv shows and a scheduled dance-a-thon to pre-sale dinner meals at Outback Steakhouse, McLoy and his students are utilizing various fundraisers and reaching out to local community organizations to collect the remaining portion of the $19,000 total necessary to make the trip. "The school community is really helping out. The district is paying for half of it. $10,000 that will cover the airline tickets," said McLoy. "We have $3,000 in our budget for next year that I'm going to use. If I have to, I'll put the rest on my credit card and figure it out later - we're going." Despite being up against steep competition from well-funded arts programs in Orange and San Bernardino Counties, the students also claimed the top prize for duet acting, second place for make up and third for monologue acting during last month's state contests at Upland High School. Over 50 students at John Glenn High School, located at 13520 Shoemaker Ave., were involved in the play, which included set designers, set builders, stage hands, make up artists, and teenage actors who had to learn sign language for "Children of A Lesser God," which chronicles the conflicted romantic relationship between a deaf woman and her speech teacher. "This play has taught us all something," said senior Darrin Joey Rensman who was raised by deaf parents and served as assistant director during the school production. "In this play we bring two worlds together: deaf and hearing. We show we are all people with hearts, with minds, with lives no matter what imperfections we have." Only 13 students will make the journey to Nebraska for the competition in June where the cast will perform 45 minutes of the play. McLoy admits his students are nervous about performing at nationals, but he's confident the group will shed their fears once on stage. "To be honest, donations are what we need," McLoy said. "What I hate the most about being a drama high school teacher is fundraising, but you have to, there is no funding." With less than two months left to raise the money, McLoy is hopeful members of the community will pitch in and donate before it's too late. "I love my job. These kids are doing incredible work with nothing. If they can do this - they can do anything," he said. "Any chance to have them shine, I'll be happy." For more information or to donate towards the trip, call Pat McLoy at (714) 421-3085.
********** Published: April 12, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 52