Natalia Temesgen

This teacher saw a gap at Midland Middle School. She used theater as the bridge.

Kate Harrell is one of my oldest friends.

We met as students at Columbus High School. I acted in plays and she worked as a technician on those plays. I was comfortable on stage in front of people and Kate was far more shy and felt at ease behind the scenes where should could help without standing in the spotlight.

Fast forward 15 years or so, and Kate is co-directing the first theatrical production at Midland Middle School, where she works as the school counselor. A couple dozen Midland students have worked under the direction of Kate and her colleagues, Jason Thorne (band/orchestra teacher) and Katti Waller (chorus teacher), to produce a toe-tapping production of “Schoolhouse Rock Live Jr.” that opened on Tuesday.

Kate first mentioned her desire to put on a play at Midland many months ago. Reminiscing on our high school days and the incredible memories, friendships and skills we gained doing theater productions together, she regretted the fact that her students didn’t have an opportunity like that. She saw a need. She had a vision. She shared it with Jason and Katti, and that was the beginning of MMS history.

I attended the dress rehearsal of “Schoolhouse Rock Live Jr.” on Monday afternoon. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this performance, especially knowing that only two of the cast members had ever performed in a play before! These kids can sing! In fact, when the first song began I thought the voice I was hearing was part of the backing track. When I looked up to see a tiny blonde girl belting out in perfect pitch, I couldn’t believe it!

The students sang and danced through some of my old favorites: “Conjunction Junction,” “I’m Just a Bill” and “The Preamble” were among them. My 2-year-old sat quiet and wide-eyed for well over a half-hour, smiling and gaping at the activity on stage. This is a feat that even Elmo can rarely accomplish.

I am so proud of what my friend Kate has accomplished thus far in her short tenure at Midland Middle School. She and her colleagues saw a gap and created a bridge; these students have come together and created something outstanding. They have worked together to produce a wholesome, educational, dance-worthy performance full of heart. I hope you’ll take a seat in the cafeteria at Midland and enjoy the fruits of their labor. You can watch the performance Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 and benefit future theatrical productions at MMS!

Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at nntemesgen@gmail.com.

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