How To Save A School Program

So, I can't really get into the WHOLE story, but basically, I'm a senior in high school and me and the other seniors and juniors are getting the feeling that our drama program is going to get cut next year. 2 weeks before school started this year, they tried to cut all seniors our of drama, saying "You've already been in drama for 3 years." even though we were all promised a 4 year of drama would be offered (basically, we have drama 1, 2, and 3 and they said we'll include a drama 4. Either way, people have been taking drama 3 twice now for 5 years since the school opened). We have no teacher (can't get into that) and the school is basically cycling us though subs. The whole program is in massive debt (don't ask me, no one knows where the money went), though we paid it off. Me and the other drama officer did the math, and we, the students, did a fundraiser and after adding everything up, we broke even and should have quite a bit left over (though we don't even know where THAT money went. if it went into the school or the drama funds).
Now, with no teacher/director, we're trying to put on a huge play and we're getting no help. The school admins are ignoring us (I'm an officer and one of the 2 student directors, so "us" is me, the other officers, and the other studnet director). We try to schedule appointments with them so we can talk to them on their time and when it's convinent for them, but they keep giving us the run-around and lying to us or just plain blowing us off.
We're spending hours and hour practicing for a play we might not even get to put on. We pretty much have the cast, the set, the props, the costumes, and the ability to make tickets and pamplets for the play, but without a stage, none of that means anything.

Everyone is slowly getting more and more discouraged and soon, me and the other members are worried that they're gonna just give up. And the thing is is that other members of drama aren't taking anything serisouly either (our drama dept. has a rep for being the "free" or "easy" class :/). But for the students who do, this is going to be a huge blow.

Some people think it's silly that me and the few senior students in drama (the ones who actually care) are fighting so hard and putting so much time into a program we're never going to be involved in again, but we all see it this way: We're not doing this just for us. We're doing this for our friends who might not have this program to come back to next year. We're doing it for those who love drama and our plays (even people who aren't involved drama). And we're doing it for people coming to school.
I know that I want heart broken when I heard my school didn't have home ec. class.
We all feel like we're the program thats always been thrown under the bus and never taken serisouly. A lot of us feel like if we quit now, we're qutting on the whole drama team (as corny as all of that and this sounds, we're pretty much a family).
We also feel like, if we can do something, we should. There's too many people who love drama and are too talanted. Preforming arts has changed my life and I know it effects some people way more then it'll ever effect me (for some people, they want to make their LIFE).
We need to show the school that we, as the students, are worth it.

Some of the people wanted to do a silent protest, but me and a few other people were able to talk them out of it (that'd get us no where and in trouble). And almost everything has to be approved by the school.

We're all a bunch of kids being either ignored or lied to, and it's not fair. And appernetly an admin said to a parent that the play was cancelled, but then turned right back around and told us to keep practicing.
The lack of info from the higher up people is the most frustrating thing. We're trying to be polite and make things eaiser for them (we know they're wicked busy running a school of almost 2,000 students), but all we want is 10 minutes just to sit down and talk to them, not a 30 second convo with an ending that says "Come back later and buck up."

Do y'all have any ideas of anything we might be able to do to get more attention or notice without getting in trouble or seeming like a bunch of typical no-good hoodlum teens?

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4 replies since 19th September 2010 • Last reply 19th September 2010

I used to coach drama at the junior high I worked at so I have an idea on what you're working with. Of course I am really just floored at the waste of money at hiring a sub for over 5 years for a class. Not sure what state you're in, or if it's different from NE, but subs get paid more here than regular teachers.

My suggestion is to get a sponsor for the theatrical department. If someone is sponsoring money for the program the school legally cannot put the money towards anything but that department. I also suggest you have one of your parents, or all of your parents call the Principal and set up a meeting to sit down with them, the students and the parents to discuss this matter opening and frankly. That way there can’t be any double dealing. And if you cannot get the school to put on the play, than contact one of your local play houses and discuss the possibility of them letting you put on a weekend performance using one of their stages. I’m sure if there is a college with a theater department nearby or a small theater company would be happy to help you out.

It’s a sad world we live in that the arts are constantly being cut out of school programs. My high school had a huge theater department and produced a lot of professional actors out of it. I know probably more people working professionally in theater, television and movies than most people from the Midwest and it strikes me as so strange how difficult it is for all of them to come together to make something, meanwhile they are all waiting around for their next project.

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Well, for 2 years (maybe 3, I'm not sure), we had a musical theatre teacher, but she prefered working more with chorus (which is what she does full time now and I don't hold that against her at all! She's an amazing teacher and our chorus program rocks!), then we had a teacher last year (and I'm really not sure what he had a degree is...He just kinda did a little bit everything), and then he isn't right now this year, so now they're just hiring sub after sub.
They say they're looking for a drama sub, but I just don't know...Pretty much everyone figures they're just gonna keep the subs until the year is over (they can't really put us anywhere right now) and then cut the program.

We were thinking get some sponsers, but the school won't give us the paper work we need for them to sign Happy
It's like the whole office ignores us whenever we bring the topic up. But I'm gonna keep that legal bit in mind (that they can't take the money away if we have one).

Parents have tried, but the admins just keep giving them the run around. I mean, so far, its only been a few, but if this keeps up (us being ignored and lied to and being brushed off), I think that really might happen. It's not fair to anyone. This is a huge waste of our time. If they really did cancel our play, then what are we spending our classes doing, planning and practicing all the time? Just...wasting time?

Someone apperently knows someone from a college and is good friends with them, and they might let us use the stage for a week. But that's a huge maybe. We haven't really went over with it with them, and we sorta wanna do that as a last resort kinda thing (it's already hard enough to get people to actually come to our plays, but to have them drive across town...). We really wanna fight to have it done at our school to show that we CAN do it, ya know?
But I'll tell them that we should look into different places Happy
Because if all these people are going to put out such an effort, then I think they DESERVE to be on stage. So, yea, if the school refuses to let us do it there, then we'll probably start tryin' for the colleges and companies.

And see, that's what I think: So many students have the potential to go on to be something great! They just aren't give the chance
We all feel like we're just being swept under the rug, and it breaks my heart when students come up to me, asking me for any new info, and the only thing I can tell them is "I don't know..."

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Have a stand-off. Have the parents of everyone involved with the play call the school at the same time and overload the staff with requests to speak or meet with the Principal. It's ridiculous to think that the principal doesn't have time to meet with concerned parents. And if your principal won’t, then take it to the school board. This is an issue if it really is as bad as you say where the school staff is brushing off parents.

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I agree with PinkWeeds. It is bound to be written somewhere in your school constitution that parents are to be listened to.

I don't know about American schools but in the UK, every school has a Board of Governers. They are there to ensure that the Head (Principal) plays by the rules and doesn't go power-mad (well, as well as some boring financial auditing stuff). Do you have a similar system? If so, remember they are your last port of call, and going to them with clear proof that you and your parents have been ignored is extremely powerful. A few years ago, a head I worked for was demoted for neglecting his duties, after investigation by the governing body.

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