“My Shot” from Hamilton, “Ease On Down the Road” from The Wiz, these are songs students and staff hear 9:00 every Wednesday morning as they walk past the ACA gym.
Sydney Heim is part ACA senior, part musical theatre teacher. And according to her student Carson Welker, she’s a good one. Last spring, Sydney approached Lara Fabrycki, the previous school principal, and got the class approved. The current school principal Nic Chapin said, “We always want to support students who have a passion… we want to encourage them to share that passion with others.”
This is not the first time that students have taught classes. Chapin says the last class he remembers was a DJ class. When asked if he thinks there will be more student-led classes in the future, he said, “It just depends on the students and what they want to do, and how it will fit into the school’s plan and schedule.” At ACA parents can supervise classes. This allows us at the school to do unique things that don’t happen elsewhere.
Sydney says her class of four students is about “learning how to best approach any form of musical theatre.” This year, they are going to “take solo pieces and analyze them by reading them like monologues… listen to the lyrics and music in songs and see the correlation to the story, and… learn to make a musical into [their] own scene instead of following the natural story of the entire musical.”
The class is for grades 8-12 and her students do not get credits from the class, but Credit for Proficiency (C4P) is easy. All her students have to do is go to class, and talk to the head of the drama department, then bam! Credits for everyone! However, not all students choose to do C4P. Carson says he has all of the art credits he needs, so he won’t be focusing so much on credits, and more on the fun of the class.
As long as students can focus, they are welcome to join. If you would like to become a part of this class, all you have to do is walk into the gym 9am Wednesday morning and say, “Hi, I wanna be in this class!” and she’ll let you!
Carson says that his favorite part of the class is the people. If you have doubts about taking a class taught by a student, Carson says that the class wouldn’t be as fun if weren’t taught by an ACA senior. Mr. Chapin says that Sydney’s best skill as a teacher is the courage to stand in front of others and share what she knows. He also says his only advice for Sydney is to “continue to share [her] passion.”
Sydney had no idea what to expect for her class. Would it have 20 people, or as little as two? She was originally planning to do A Very Potter Musical, but due to the lack of student awareness about the class, she only has four students; not enough to fill all of the roles. Instead, she is looking up some ensemble numbers and creating choreography to them.
Sydney has been practicing musical theatre for seven years. For the past nine months, she has been working technical theatre on professional musicals. She has performed in many Staged! plays and musicals. Her biggest motivator this year has been The Oregon Shakespeare Summer Seminar for High School Juniors. Sydney said, “When I was being trained by OSF I learned that a lot of people don’t have the resources to learn about different forms of theatre, so I want to be a resource for the people in our school while also being an advocate for the arts in our school by raising money through performance with my students.” Sydney is very excited to teach this year; she has a passion for all forms of musical and technical things in theatre.
Chapin hopes to see this class perform later this year, as both an assessment, and because it’s fun to see what they’ve learned.