WHEN Project Celebrates “Theatre In Our Schools” and
“Arts In Our Schools” Month
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (March 2, 2022) – In its 11th year, the collaborative project of Henderson County Public Schools’ four traditional high schools’ advanced theatre classes will present a showcase of 30-minute plays Friday, March 4, reviving live student theatre for the district’s “Arts In Our Schools Month” and national “Theatre in Our Schools Month”!
The WHEN (West, Hendersonville, East, and North) Project started in 2010 as a challenge to theatre students across the county, designed to connect them with their peers and celebrate their creativity through a formal production. Thirteen years and a global pandemic later, HCPS theatre students and teachers are seeking to help revive live theatre after a 2-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.
Early in the new year, the four county high school theatre teachers meet and select one line of dialogue, one prop, and one incident to form the basis for each student group to create a new work of theatre. This year, the teachers added a new element for students to include: a decade from history. This year’s criteria includes a traffic cone (prop), a theft (incident), “I woke up with a melted Hershey’s bar in my left pocket,” (line of dialogue), the 1960’s (decade).
The groups have 5 weeks to conceptualize, create, write, rehearse, and design their productions, using a limited budget of $100. All the energy culminates in a public performance, which is critiqued by area theatre professionals. The showcase is open to the public, with ticket sales directly sustaining future WHEN Project collaborations.
In the WHEN Project’s infancy, the student groups were assisted by Sharon Ashe, HCPS Secondary Education Director for Math, Science, Foreign Language and Arts, with a small grant that went directly to the budgets for each production and a modest stipend for the professional adjudicators. In its second year, the Rotary Club of Henderson County provided a grant to keep the Project going. Since that time, the WHEN Project has continued through ticket sales.
“The performing, music, visual, and literary arts programs in our schools are critical components to educating the whole child, and are highly valued by our school board,” said Dr. Wendy Frye, HCPS Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services. “In Henderson County, we know the worth of arts education, and our teachers and students are fortunate to receive immense support from our vibrant local arts community and families.”
Theatre In Our Schools (TIOS) Month is a joint venture between the Educational Theatre Association and the American Alliance for Theatre & Education, promoting the value of theatre education and to increase its availability to students. One of the key messages of TIOS Month is that theatre skills help students develop vital 21st-century skills like communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking, as well as social/emotional skills critical to students’ growth as young adults.
In 2019, the NC School Board of Education and former State Superintendent Mark Johnson jointly issued a proclamation designating March as Arts in Our Schools Month. Each year since then, the Henderson County Board of Public Education has adopted resolutions designating March as “Arts in Our Schools Month” in Henderson County Public Schools. This coincides with professional arts education associations designating March as “Dance in Our Schools Month” (National Dance Education Organization), “Music in Our Schools Month” (National Association for Music Education), “Youth Arts Month” (Council for Arts Education), as well as TIOS Month.
The WHEN Project Showcase is from 6-9 p.m. at East Henderson High’s auditorium. Tickets are $5 and available at the door.