“Please be informed that the application has been approved.”
The email from the Singapore Government with nine easy-to-spell words was the culmination of hundreds of hours of work that let the spelling bee begin—The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, to be exact.
To host this year’s high school musical—our first live performance in two years—our performing arts and theater teams set up the entire theater to run through a mock performance, including token scanners, seat covers, entrances, exits, seating zones, microphone wipe downs and more. Exact measurements had to be calculated and shared to highlight our ability to ensure appropriate distancing between audience members in the venue and cast members on the stage. Everything had to be photographed in detail to demonstrate our full adherence to the National Arts Council (NAC) guidelines.
All of that work resulted in yesterday’s opening of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which I was thrilled to attend. There was such a palpable sense of joy and good humor (and, dare I say it, normalcy) in the theater as our talented cast performed on stage, supported by students in the orchestra pit, technology booth, stage crew, and make-up room. There were lots of smiles behind all the masks.
In a typical year, the theater set would be built and remain on stage for the duration of rehearsals and performances. Currently, our stage is being used as a classroom every day in order to meet the safe distancing guidelines to allow our dance classes to take place. This meant the entire set had to be taken down and rebuilt each day.
We asked our theater team, in the face of so many obstacles and uncertainties, why did they spend their nights and weekends trying to bring this together?
The simple response came from Tracy van der Linden, high school director of activities and athletics: “They’re our kids.”
These three words highlight not only the “why” for our performing arts team but a “why” I have seen demonstrated time and again by educators across campus as they ensure the safety of our students while simultaneously delivering engaging learning experiences.
We are very grateful for this opportunity. After the release of the latest safe management measures this weekend, our team connected with government representatives to confirm the show could proceed as planned and received confirmation that indeed the show could go on.
Please click here to purchase tickets and see the latest guidance for audience members. There are two shows on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
So, while not many of us might be able to spell “syzygy,” we can all spell “thank you.”