Principal Tom Evans said the school will continue to have a drama club next school year even as the school was forced to eliminate its theater department due to budget cuts.
Evans said the school is losing four teachers next school year and he was forced to find an area that he could cut. With just enough students to fill two classes next school year, Evans said he couldn’t justify offering theater classes.
“Unfortunately, we had to cut from somewhere and the student interest for theater classes just wasn’t there next year,” Evans said. “I support the arts as much as anyone in schools, but times are tough and a decision had to be made. We will find other ways of keeping the drama club open.”
Past and present students say they understand Evans’ decision, but believe eliminating theater classes is not the answer. Supporters of the department began collecting signatures through a traditional petition and one online with hopes of having the cuts restored. Between the two petitions, the students have collected about 400 signatures.
“Theater offers students a release from the rigors of general academic classes,” Eastern Tech senior Jessica Alignay said. “Plus, the classes offer a way to help students with self-confidence issues by teaching them how to perform in public. Having theater classes available is an important part of high school.”
Chrissy Farley agrees. Farley, 19, graduated from Eastern Tech last year, but returned this spring to assist with the drama club.
While she knows the school will try to keep the drama club going with another faculty adviser, Farley doesn’t believe it will offer the same experience as one being offered when a traditional theater teacher is in charge.
“I just don’t believe the club will be run with the same level of dedication,” said Farley, a freshman at . “I understand the position Mr. Evans is in, but there has to be something that can be done at either his level or at the Board of Education.”
Evans said he understands the students' concerns and is confident the drama club will continue to produce quality theatrical productions like it did this spring when the students performed “Fools” by Neil Simon. Students directed that production while the school’s current theater teacher was out on medical leave.
“The arts are an important part of a student’s educational experience,” Evans said. “I know with the academic rigors we offer at Eastern Tech, students need that change of pace. While we won’t offer classes, there will be dedicated teachers willing to keep the club going.”