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Greely Drama - November 2012 and Community Collaboration October 2012

posted Nov 16, 2012, 5:43 PM by Dawna Green   [ updated Jan 14, 2013, 10:14 AM by Susan Conley ]

MSAD #51
Spotlight November 2012 

Greely’s Theatre Program 

Greely High School’s upcoming fall musical is 42nd Street and will be performed on November 15th, 16th, 17th at 7:30 p.m. and on the 18th at 2:00 p.m. We encourage all community members to come support our students and to enjoy the entertainment they provide.

Greely’s Theatre program has thrived under the leadership of Audrey Northway since 1980. During her 32-year tenure, Northway introduced both the fall musical and the spring dinner theater. There is no break in the school year for Greely Drama. Students often begin dance practices in August, audition for the musical in early September, and perform in November. The auditions for the spring play begin in January and students perform the play in March. The many demands of putting on a show provide opportunities for students to be involved in a variety of capacities and each show taps into the different talents of a broad base of Greely’s student body. Typically between 75 and 85 students participate in the fall musical. In addition to the actors, singers, and dancers, students are involved in building and painting sets, running the lighting and sound, creating and altering costumes, stage managing, applying stage makeup, and creating posters and cast biographies. One element that sets Greely’s Drama program apart from other schools is the fact that MSAD #51 does not have a performing arts center. Because students practice and perform in the cafeteria, the tech crews set up and take down the lighting and sound equipment on a daily basis. This requires an extra degree of both expertise and responsibility.

Greely Drama is largely self-funded. The combination of ticket sales and Greely’s Drama Boosters fundraising efforts pay for costs including royalties, a choreographer and music director, supplies such as microphones and lights, set construction materials, and costumes. Northway recalled the first year she decided to do a Broadway musical in 1998, the additional expense of the show wiped out Drama’s entire savings account. She appealed to the community to set up a Theatre Boosters organization, and the group of committed parents (and former parents) has helped provide the needed resources ever since. She is forever grateful for their ongoing support.

Northway describes the spring’s dinner theater as one of the highlights of her year, in part because it is such a community effort. Booster parents provide dinner in the cafeteria, while parents of cast and crew members provide desserts for all attendants. The show sells out every year. Northway says among the most satisfying parts of her job is watching the student confidence, satisfaction and pride that comes from putting on a successful show. She always reminds her students that entertaining people is a wonderful gift.

(Tickets for 42nd Street will be on sale in the main lobby during school lunches Tuesday, November 13 through Friday, November 16 and from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 13 through Thursday, November 15 and at the door each evening. Prices are $9.00 for adults and $6.00 for students and senior citizens.)


MSAD #51 Superintendent’s Office  • P. O. Box 6A Cumberland, ME  04021• Phone 829-4800 • Fax 829-4802


October 2012 Spotlight
Community Collaboration

For many of our students, summer vacation provides time to enjoy some of the best that Maine offers. For some kids, the break is also about long days at home with unstructured activity. These days can mean isolation from their peers and the routines students are familiar with during the school year. MSAD #51 is fortunate that the Cumberland Recreation Department provides a camp offering an outstanding menu of games, outdoor activities and field trips. It is one of many examples where school personnel, faith-based groups, community members and community organizations collaborate to provide the best opportunities possible for our children.

Peter Bingham, Cumberland’s Recreation Superintendent, notes that while summer camp used to be strictly about providing fun in the summer for kids, now it’s also about offering support for working parents. Where fee structures used to be based on the number of hours kids spent at camp, now there is a fixed price for a 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM day, so that parents don’t feel pressure to leave work early or juggle schedules to be back by 3:00 PM. While reasonably priced compared to other camps, Cumberland Recreation camp sessions still require significant resources. This is where community collaboration plays a role. Bingham says that in many cases it’s not parents who ask for help for their children, but neighbors who identify kids who need financial or other forms of assistance. Student programming funds from each of the schools, and support from Cumberland’s Recreation Department, provide both monetary and logistical support for families who can’t afford camp.

This summer, White Pines Community Church wanted to do something to give back to the schools and community. It was brought to the church’s attention that several ELL children (English Language Learners) would benefit from the structure and enrichment camp offered. The church provided the opportunity for students to attend seven full sessions of camp, while ELL instructor Pam Sullivan worked with the students twice a week for extra tutoring. With Sullivan’s support, students received fourteen sessions of academic tutoring during the course of the summer. Sullivan, whose generous donation of time provided enrichment beyond even what the camp offered, speaks effusively about both the stimulating nature of the camp program, and what a contrast it offers to how many kids would be spending their time without it. Many students would lose the benefits of the work they invested during the school year, without the structure provided by consistent weeks of camp. That students were able to participate throughout the summer was made possible by the generous support of White Pines Community Church. As Joe Campbell, one of the congregation’s pastors notes: “White Pine Community Church is made up of the people of this community and it is just a privilege for us to partner with the town and school to get to have this kind of positive impact in the lives of these special kids.”

Summer camp is one many examples where the community, civic and religious groups and schools come together to enrich the lives of our children. Peter Bingham acknowledges: “We are very fortunate in our community to have so many groups willing and eager to collaborate in an effort to provide access to a fun/safe summer camp experience for every child and family within the towns of Cumberland and North Yarmouth.” We look forward to highlighting other collaborative partnerships in the months ahead.