Behind the Scenes

Heidrick Seizes Chance to Teach Drama

More stories from Kaeden Thurber

Drama teacher Jessica Heidrick has had her fair share of experience in the theatre world. Taking advantage of the opportunities that her high school offered, Heidrick worked her way from Wichita North High School to Baltimore, Maryland. where she taught for a private theatre company.

Returning to Kansas, Heidrick spent one year teaching English, and saw an opportunity arise when the position of drama teacher was vacant for the 2018-19 school year. Despite being two separate subjects, Heidrick finds that teaching the two do not differ as much as one might think.

“There is a lot of theatrical literature in both. A sense of humor is required to teach both well,” Heidrick said. “The creativity and the script analysis and literary analysis and character development, plot, themes and all that stuff is very similar in a lot of ways.”

Heidrick believes that participating in drama can be life-changing and has many positive benefits.

Keaton Wetschensky
Sophomore Creed Ekerberg takes a stance during the Pharisees scene. Ekerberg played the role of Jeffrey, one that provided comic relief.
Keaton Wetschensky
Pointing off to the side of the stage, juniors Mikey Smith and Eli Regier perform during Godspell. Smith and Regier were a part of the 10-person ensemble cast for the fall musical.
Keaton Wetschensky
Backstage, sophomore Caitlynn Erickson applies make-up on junior Rai Angolo for his role as Judas. Students in the Tech Theater class assisted actors in preparing for stage.

“It gives you confidence, a sense of camaraderie, it gives you a safe place to try to be someone else for a while, gives you a chance to get to know yourself better,” Heidrick said.
Additionally, Heidrick believes drama is for all students and there is a role suited for each student regardless of their experience and strengths.

“Drama is one of the subjects that appeals to each of the intelligence types, so if you are good at math and logistics then set building or concepts. There’s so many ways you can grow as a person doing drama,” Heidrick said.

Teaching at many different schools does not come without its challenges. Heidrick believes that even though students are alike, rules differ.

“Each school has separate procedures and everything that they do and they do drama in different ways each time. Content is awesome and theatre kids are always lovable and loud and exciting everywhere you go so that’s amazing,” Heidrick said.

Hedrick’s new role as drama teacher has allowed for new changes to the department, including the impact on her students.

“Instead of telling us how to act and telling us what to do with this character, she asks us questions and makes us develop our character ourselves. There’s a lot more of a positive vibe and enthusiasm,” sophomore Creed Ekerberg said.

In addition to Ekerberg, sophomore Madyson Groves also believes Heidrick has made an impact on the program, even though this is her first year attending Newton High.

“[The musical] went really well; they were all very accepting of my lack of knowledge on what I was doing. They really gave me a family and that’s something I really needed,” Groves said.
The fall musical “Godspell” was performed on Nov. 9, 10 and 11. Auditions for the spring play “Almost, Maine” took place Dec. 4 and 6.