The good kind of drama at Window Rock High

By Glenda Rae Davis
Navajo Times

FORT DEFIANCE, April 12, 2012

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(Courtesy photo - Goose Elliot)

The Window Rock High School drama class performs their "Restaurant Mime" skit at their Fun with Drama event March 29 in the school auditorium.

F rom mimes to singers the Window Rock High drama class displayed a plethora of talents at its first public Fun with Drama Night, held March 29 at the school auditorium.

"We're just trying to generate an interest in drama," said drama teacher Sue Schoen. "Tonight was all about people finding out what we do in drama class and to fundraise."

The hour-long event consisted of a variety of skits, monologues and songs, with students performing original acts as well as scenes from 1990s young-adult films like "Romy & Michele's High School Reunion," "10 Things I Hate About You" and "The Breakfast Club."

"I love drama," said Rhiannan Yazzie, 16. "I would actually like to get a scholarship for it."

Yazzie, a junior, said the drama class "improves us as people" because of the social skills that performing requires.

The class is in its first year at WRHS and has 18 students enrolled. Schoen said studying drama helps students with their future.

"Students will use the skills they learn in drama throughout their entire lives," she said.

"I'm told the number one skill employers look for when hiring employees is if they can work with others," Schoen said. "Working on a performance is a true collaborative effort. It's wonderful how they support and encourage each other."

Tickets were $3 each and Schoen said the money raised would go towards putting on student plays.

"We're expected to raise our own funds," she said. "The district did pay for our 'NerdLandia' books ... but mostly we raise our own money."

"NerdLandia" is a 1999 play by Gary Soto that the class is preparing to present this spring.

Fundraising also helps the students in the long run, Schoen said.

"It's good for the kids because it helps them take ownership of productions," she said. "They have autonomy."

"The whole process is also an authentic learning experience. If they had their own acting company, they would have to do the same thing," she noted.

The class raised a total of $1,000 this year.

For many of the students, learning to find comfort in front of an audience was their motivation to sign up for the course.

"It gives us social skills," said Parvannah Lee, 18. "We're not afraid to talk in front of a group of people. We're very open."

Lee and Yazzie performed a short skit of two geezers bickering as they sit on a bench outside an eldercare facility.

Jon-Michael Watson, 17, said the course helps him with his public speaking skills.

"I needed something to help boost my confidence," he said, adding, "It's really fun."

Watson, a senior, was the singer of the class, performing acoustic songs by The Airborne Toxic Event, an indie rock band.

"What I'm most impressed with is how comfortable they are on stage, and how willing they are to take risks," Schoen said after the show. "They have the ability to think fast on their feet and run with it."

"Several of the skits started with improvisation. That's not easy. It takes a lot of guts," she said.

Currently the drama students are working on "NerdLandia," a romantic comedy about a boy and girl changing themselves to get each other's attention.

Schoen said the play will be presented to the public in May.

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