VAPA Students Figure Out Ways to Make Show Go On

From March of 2020 to February of 2021, WRHS’s visual and performing arts teachers had to let go of shows, performances, and most activities that required the class to work together. Most of the necessary actions in these three subjects have their challenges. Students that have chosen to learn an instrument, join the choir, or join theatre now can’t do most of the stuff they’d usually do.

In choir, masks have made it very difficult to be able to sing to their best ability.

“It’s incredibly difficult to sing while wearing a mask, as it impairs your breathing, pitch, and volume.” choir teacher Mrs. Kennedy stated. “I think we can all agree that singing with your mask on doesn’t sound like much fun.”

The enthusiasm has lowered for teachers in the VAPA department in many ways. All the excitement they used to have from preparing for shows is now gone, and now they’ve welcomed technology issues that aren’t very exciting, as we all know by now.

Drama teacher Mrs. Stogner said, “It has lowered my enthusiasm for technology and showed me that I don’t really want all those things like extra screens and would much rather just have small groups.”

Some might think it to be hard to stay positive while being a teacher during a pandemic. Still, neither Mrs. Stogner nor Mrs. Kennedy has said it was hard to stay positive.

“I love music, and I love teaching music, so it’s hard to be negative when I get paid to do what I love,” stated Mrs. Kennedy. “There is always light at the end of the tunnel. You have to keep on pushing yourself to keep going because, in the end, it’ll all be worth it.”

In the VAPA department, the teachers have been showcasing their students by sending one another videos, pictures, or even updates about what each class is doing. In theatre, the students did a zoom play during the fall term. They’re currently planning on doing short films and plays that they can record so they’ll be able to share on video.

Because hybrid learning has made it difficult for students to work together as a whole class, teachers have found alternative ways to teach. In choir, Mrs. Kennedy has “[…] been implementing a lot more structured, individual practice time,” while Mrs. Stogner has her students do breakout groups during online school. There are many struggles with hybrid learning, like not having enough practice time, technology issues, and teaching students how to interact with one another. A big letdown for the VAPA teachers is that they’re not allowed to live performances or shows.

“There’s something about having a live audience that really makes a show more satisfying, you work so hard that you want that applause at the end,” Mrs. Stogner said.

The choir can feel aimless at times since the students and the teacher are usually so driven towards those performance dates. Some of these classes’ curriculum has significantly slowed down, especially in piano, since there are only two times a week to practice on a piano. For example, I’m currently a piano student, and it definitely feels like we are moving slower since we only have so much time to practice. Mrs. Kennedy has been so optimistic and generous about this new teaching style that we now have to get used to it. Her positivity encourages all her students, including me, to be motivated and excited about coming to class and that this situation doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

The one thing Mrs. Stogner misses most about “regular school” is the personal relationships that she gets to build with her students because you don’t really get to know how they are or what’s going on during online school in their personal life. “BEING ABLE TO SING IN CLASS,” is the one thing that Mrs. Kennedy misses.

COVID-19 has dramatically impacted our lives and makes us think a lot about the “what ifs,” but all we can do now is try and manage to stay positive during these rough times.