Three years ago, when Walden Elementary School’s (WES) drama club gained a new advisor, it also gained a new partnership that would greatly enhance the elementary school’s theater program.
Loren O’Connell, a WES and Valley Central alumna, was hired as WES’ drama club advisor. As she also works as a drama teacher at the Hudson Valley Conservatory of Fine Arts, a performing arts school that owns the New Rose Theater located in Walden, she sought out a partnership between the conservatory and WES so that students could have the opportunity to hone their theater skills in a professional setting.
The partnership continues to flourish – WES’ drama club has performed its annual play at the New Rose Theater for the past three years, most recently Alice in Wonderland this past February. The theater supplied set pieces, props and costumes as well as rehearsal and performance space. The WES drama club has between 50-80 members who participate in these plays, as performers and as stage crew. Students are bused from WES to the theater and learn how to maneuver the professional lighting and sound equipment.
“It really is an amazing opportunity for these kids, some of whom may not have otherwise had the opportunity to perform in a real theater setting,” Ms. O’Connell said. “They really learn so much through theater – they learn how to support each other and work together to pull off the production, their lines, the music and the choreography. They also develop confidence; it’s hard to get up in front of everyone you know and perform.”