The Mentors Behind the Middle School Musical

Anderson and Norup middle school students are coming together to perform their annual musical. This year’s show is High School Musical, ironically put on by middle schoolers. Even though it is a great opportunity for the young actors, singers, and dancers to shine, one really important factor of this show’s production is the mentorship program with the high school. Some members of the high school drama program are mentoring these middle schoolers and making sure that they are ready for their final performances. As one of these mentors, I’ve been able to see firsthand the impact that our production team/staff of high schoolers has had on these kids and this show.
Our dance team consists of junior Jordan Rowan, senior Jonah Chupack, and BHS alum Meredith Batcheller. They choreograph and teach the many important dance numbers in the show. Senior Joshua Bianca and I are both musical directors, and we get to work closely with the kids to solidify their singing and music comprehension. Jordan Rowan says, “I think that it’s beneficial to have someone for the middle schoolers to look up to and watch. They can think, ‘in a few years, that’s where I will be.’ I’m really excited to watch once they know everything, all of the dances, songs, and blocking, to see it all click in their minds.” When asked about what he’s most excited about, Josh Bianca said, “I’m really excited to see the whole thing come together. As the person who is usually on the stage, you know, the show comes together, but you don’t actually see it. You’re doing it, but you don’t see it from an outside perspective.” Jonah Chupack believes that “performing with middle schoolers is a different feat than performing with high schoolers, and there definitely is an extra layer of assistance that is required.”
When asked about the impact the high schoolers are having on the middle schoolers, drama director John Hopkins said, “I think influence right now is super important because we missed a couple of years of school, missing the social interactions. And younger kids are looking for someone to emulate. If we want good younger kids, we must pair them up with good older kids…I love the point when the “concentration” face becomes the “I love what I’m doing” face. When it’s no longer work, and it becomes what they love.”
But the people who are the most impacted by the high school mentors are the middle schoolers themselves. 6th grader Riley Casetta (who plays Sharpay) says that she likes having high schoolers around because they are “younger people who understand us more and will help us with more things.”
Being able to mentor these kids has been such an amazing and reflective experience. For those of us who have been in theatre since we were in middle school, it’s easy to see our younger selves in them. And we hope to be the same role models to them as the high schoolers we looked up to when we were their age.
All of this hard work from the cast, crew, and production has paid off and created an amazing show. Be sure to catch the iconic Disney film recreated on the BHS auditorium stage on January 13 and 14 at 7 pm!