Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

A New Act

Courtesy of ENN Staff

Last semester, theater teachers Cara Cook and Jill Baker took a final bow on Lake Ridge stages. They made the tough decision to leave the school, allowing new teachers Holly Henao and Sharon Hallmark, or Angee as she likes to go by, to take the spotlight.

The decision to leave the school was not one Cook and Baker took lightly, and leaving their schools wasn’t easy for the new directors either. The new technical director, who was a theater teacher at Danny Jones Middle School, found out about the job from a friend in the district. Henao has slowly adjusted to the change and worked to get to know her new students.

“It’s hard, I miss my students at Danny Jones and I feel bad I had to transition. It’s bittersweet because now I have these kids and my Danny Jones kids, but I do feel bad leaving them mid-year,” said Henao. “I’ve already held an audition workshop, and then I try to, in every class, walk around and make sure everybody’s good, checking in individually. I try to be as kind and understanding as I can be.”

With new teachers come new activities and systems being implemented in the class. Both students and teachers are slowly familiarizing themselves with each other. Junior Avery De Carion has seen the changes made as the new teachers become comfortable in the class.

“I have both of their classes, both Mrs. Hallmark and Ms. Henao, and they’re great. Every interaction I’ve had with them, they’re so respectful and very hardworking, and you can tell how passionate and caring they are about this department,” said De Carion. “The environment has definitely changed as well as the opportunities that we’re given. We’re doing a lot more so they have a lot of ambitions. We’re doing more workshops and field trips and shows, so that’s nice as well.”

From a new one-act to the different classes working together more, the new directors have tried to develop the theater department to the best of their abilities. Sophomore Madison Boseman is slowly embracing the changes, despite being nervous when she learned the news.

“I found out the last day before break started. I was pretty shocked, and a little sad. A new teacher, they’re new to us and don’t know how we work, but I really like the new teachers, they’re great,” said Boseman. “Mrs. Hallmark changed what play we’re going to do, but it’s for the better. It’s really active with both teachers instead of just sticking to our one-teacher class, it’s so different the way she runs it.”

Theater requires a lot of effort and cooperation from both the students and the teachers, so adding new systems to the mix can be scary. The new directors have tried their best to be as understanding as possible. Hallmark, the new head director, likes to create fun activities and allow her students to share their opinions on what they do.

“My days are crazy because I’ve never had this many different kinds of classes to teach. A typical day depends on the class and how advanced they are. They’re working on a tech theater project where they’ll get in their groups and we’ll have a report kind of halfway through. Usually, they’ll present or perform for the class,” said Hallmark. “They have a lot of pressure in their other classes, so we are a little bit relaxed here. I have a high tolerance for noise because I like kids to work together. We can’t do everything everybody suggests but if there’s some stuff we can fit in or some changes we can make, we listen.”

After being comfortable with Baker and Cook for so long, it’s difficult for students to adjust, however, the kindness and respect shown by Henao and Hallmark has made the transition as easy as possible. Sophomore Claire Huddleston appreciates the effort put in by the new teachers.

“I think the old theater teachers were really intelligent and genuinely did love their students. With the new teachers, everyone was kind of like ‘How are they going to be?’ ‘Are we going to change this, change that?’ I think everyone was just anticipating everything,” said Huddleston. “I love them [the new teachers] they’re really kind, and they’re serious but willing to give people second chances. I’m really excited for the new one-act we’re doing, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and anyone who can should definitely come see it.”

Despite the stress that comes with new teachers, the theater department has taken it in stride as they work with Hallmark and Henao to make the changes as easy as possible. Both Hallmark and Henao are excited to see their new students flourish on the stage.

About the Contributor
Rebecca Rios
Rebecca Rios, ENN Staff