There is nothing I remember more clearly from my high school than its auditorium.
When I close my eyes I am taken back to the musty smell of the curtains, the echo of my voice as I practiced my lines, and the intensity of the spotlight, so hot and bright it was impossible not to squint if I looked out into the audience.
Many students form their favorite high school memories on the field or the court, but not everyone does. My treasured moments took place on stage. There was nothing more thrilling than the adrenaline rush as I waited in the wings for my scene, and nothing more satisfying than taking my bow as the sound of applause rung pleasantly in my ears.
I knew since I was young that I wanted to join Drama Club when I reached high school. It never mattered to me that it was not the most popular club offered at Hamburg High; it was where I fit in. For four years, I had a place to go after the daily social and academic pressures of school where I could surround myself with like-minded people. During club meetings we worked on our improvisational skills. We talked about plays we had seen. We laughed and became friends.
So when I recently learned that Hamburg High School decided to eliminate Drama Club due to budget cuts, I was both angered and heartbroken. While I understand this decision was not made out of spite or haste, but from the hard truth of tough economic times, I simply do not see how the club can be considered expendable.
The educational and supportive environment of Drama Club was where many of my peers recognized their true potential. I have had friends go on to study theater in college and pursue acting careers in Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles.
For the rest of us who viewed theater as a pastime rather than a profession, there was still much to gain from Drama Club. It was while I was performing skits in club meetings that I developed my public speaking skills — something that helped me thrive in college and now in my career as a reporter.
My time spent practicing improvisational comedy gave me the ability to think on my feet. More importantly, it instilled in me the crucial truth that not every idea I have will be a successful one, but that life is full of more chances to try and get it right.
Eliminating the Hamburg High School Drama Club is more than just cutting an after-school activity. It is shutting a door on opportunity for many creative young minds.
I question why clubs for people who hold sticks and balls in their hands are continuously favored over those who hold scripts. I will never understand why, when money gets tight in a school district, the Arts are always the first to go.
My alma mater and the Hamburg community has always been a source of pride for me. Over the years, Hamburg has taken strides to foster its artistic community through events like the Hamburg Music Festival, art shows in Memorial Park and The Hub (to name a few) and community theater productions from Hamburg Theater Under the Stars. Now, one of its schools is taking a step in the wrong direction.
Help save drama at Hamburg High, and at all other schools where the Arts are threatened. These programs encourage students to exercise their imagination and allow them to be themselves. It’s an opportunity worth saving.
Catherine Colmerauer is a reporter for The Sun. She welcomes emails at Catherine@thesunnews.net.