UCCs High School Career Academy Theatre Students Perform for Over 4000 Elementary School Students

UCC’s High School Career Academy Theatre Students Perform for Over 4000 Elementary School Students

Roughly 4000 elementary school students from all over Douglas County visited UCC to watch a performance created by UCC’s Career Academy high school students to celebrate the 22nd Annual Literacy Month.

This marks the first performance by UCC’s new Career Academy, a program that allows high school juniors and seniors to sample a variety of possible careers on campus each Friday during the academic year. Over the course of the year, the Career Academy Theatre Students wrote and produced their own play that brings “books to life” through skits and dynamic musical performances. The Celebration of Literacy began in Douglas County in 2001 when Maxine Durst, the chair of the literacy celebration, coordinated with the community to establish the event for promoting literacy education.

On the first day of performance, Jacoby Auditorium reached near capacity with over 1000 elementary school students and educators from across Douglas County in attendance. The show began with girls at a slumber party, where they were “awakened by books” on a shelf. Each book featured was followed by a dramatic solo from one of the actors, helping add another dimension and a fresh perspective to the literary classics. These included Disney’s “Bear Necessities” from The Jungle Book, “Where You Are” from Moana, and even “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. Many of these songs had the audience singing along.

“This show has been an incredible experience for these Career Academy students,” Bart McHenry, associate professor and director of theatre said. “Career Academy gives them a head start on a potential career by providing them a rare, real-life opportunity to focus their talents on a highly creative endeavor.”

The Career Academy actors imbued their characters with flamboyant, “over-the-top” personalities to entertain younger viewers. This included an eccentric science kid who cites nothing but numbers and statistics, a rapper who rhymes every sentence, a cowgirl that communicates exclusively through wild west references, and a surfer girl looking to “ride the waves” of books.

Waves of laughter and applause rippled through the air during the performances, instilling the high school actors with an energizing confidence that translated into a very memorable visit to UCC, as it kicked off the largest crowd of elementary school students visiting campus since the pandemic.