Sunday, April 14, 2013

Beginnings (and maybe an ending)

I've long considered beginning a blog, but in truth, I never really knew what I would do with it. Would it be a place for public discussion of the thoughts that keep my up at night, the concerns I have with the world of education, my chosen career field? A place to try out new scenes or poems? I like to cook, so maybe it would be a forum for fellow foodies, I thought to myself. Ultimately, I finally just decided that I would start one if ever I found something worth discussing. This first post may not be indicative of the true nature of the blog, but it's a starting point. As the blog's name suggests, I am a teacher and writer-- I suppose those subjects are as good of starting points as any.

The deciding factor in my starting this blog, now, as it is, was my being privy to a rumor about my former high school: it seems that my former high school is considering eliminating Theatre Arts from the curriculum effective next year. I find this idea to be quite unsettling, for I know I would not be the person I am today were it not for my time spent in Theatre Arts classes over the course of my high school career. So a significant number of us former students--teachers, writers, actors--have sent emails to the school board expressing our concern over the situation. I'm stealing a page from Nathan Wellman here ( [I hope he doesn't mind] and asking that those who care about the arts in education take a moment and send an email to the board members, asking them to strongly consider the ramifications of their actions. [Contact info here:]

Below is the letter I sent. I hope that we can do some good.

Dear Members of the Board:

I want to thank you in advance for taking the time to read this letter. As an educator, I understand how precious your time is and I sincerely thank you for affording me an audience.  

The pervading rumor online and amongst colleagues and friends is that Theatre Arts will no longer be part of the curriculum at Paul Blazer High School beginning next year. I write today out of concern that there may be truth behind what so many of us have heard, and to express my dismay that such a scenario may well come to fruition.

I graduated from Blazer in 2005, having entered the school four years earlier as a timid freshman who was unsure of himself and seeking a place to belong—to the world generally, but more specifically in the halls that I would inhabit and traverse over the course of my tenure as a student there. I registered for Theatre I as a freshman simply because I needed the Humanities credit, and I entered Janie Modlin’s classroom unsure of what awaited me. To say that my timidity vanished upon entering her theatre class would be untrue, but the lessons I learned as a theatre student over the next four years were countless. Moreover, it was there that I began to truly develop a sense of self and belonging, for it was there, more than anywhere else during my academic career, that I found acceptance. I was free to be myself and to explore what that meant—that act of determining who I was as an individual and an artist—during the formative years of my adolescence.

Theatre Arts was an integral part of my education. And my story is not unique. Countless students have entered Janie’s theatre classes over the years and found there a sanctuary, a haven from the often tumultuous world around them that can seem so confusing and ugly. It is there they find their sense of belonging. It is there they find their voice. It is a place where creativity is fostered and nurtured, where talents are honed, and where the seeds that become dreams are planted. Students who may otherwise fall through the cracks are caught and buoyed through a creative outlet, pushed beyond their comfort zones, and made to explore the possibilities that lie before them. Theatre Arts is a program where, even if nowhere else, possibilities truly are limitless.

The art of performing in front of others prepares students for a variety of situations they’ll encounter over the course of their academic and professional careers. Were it not for my time spent in Theatre Arts at Blazer, I would not be the person or teacher I am today, I would not be writing my first play, and I most assuredly would not be involved with the drama department at my high school, where I hope to foster in my students a creative drive and an appreciation for the arts.

I hope that before any decision is made, you strongly consider the ramifications of eliminating the Theatre Arts program from the curriculum and the effects that such an action will have on countless students, both present and future.


David Pack

High school English teacher, college instructor, and aspiring writer 

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