The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE drama students reach out to kids

By Alex Muhindura/ne news editor

The NE Campus theatre was packed with dozens of anxious kindergartners as the majority of them awaited a new experience.

As the curtains rose and the actors filled the stage, a buzzing murmur made its way around the room. As the scenes unfolded, the crowd’s eyes, ears and emotions were sucked in until the final bow. The NE drama students’ performance of A Christmas Carol, directed by Susan Polster, received glowing reviews from the audience.

“ It was great. We need to expose our children to all of the arts,” said Brooke Johnson, a teacher at Saint Matthew Christian School.

The play is part of the Outreach Program, a project that provides art exposure to students from schools that cannot afford art programs. It involves putting on free performances on NE Campus and traveling to schools that cannot afford the travel logistics.

“ We want children in the area to know that college is fun. If we can have them make a connection between college being fun and the fun plays they saw, then it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Stephen Thomas, co-coordinator of the Outreach Program.

The program produces several shows. After multiple NE Campus performances of A Christmas Carol, the cast will visit three Title 1, or at-risk, schools. Tony Medlin, co-coordinator of the Outreach Program, said they will have performed at David E. Smith, Binion and W.T. Francisco elementary schools this week.

“ It’s about 2,000 kids that we’re going to reach on their campus in addition to the 2,000 that are coming here,” Thomas said.

The coordinators both believe that early exposure to the arts can aid the learning process. Thomas said some of the best curriculum designs are based on arts education. They use music, drama, visual art and dance to support classroom ideas.

“ Art is an open window into the soul and education of a child. All children are natural artists,” he said. “If you get a bunch of kids together, they draw, play music, be monkeys or whatever else.”

Medlin said the program is vital because it is an extension of the educational process. It is a way to experience literature in a visual way and may inspire them to return to the written word.

“ I feel that it gives kids a leg up on comprehension, visualization and imagination,” he said.

The three-year-old program has grown every year and has more ambitious plans for the future. For the spring semester, Thomas plans on performing Pinocchio Commedia. He also eventually wants to set up a professional touring theater that can work through the summer and provide drama students with job opportunities.

A simple plan to teach through the stage has already touched many lives.

As the cast took the stage to bow to the audience, an extended round of applause held them for several minutes.

The children filed out of the building, where they were greeted and thanked by the cast, who had formed a tunnel outside the doors.

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