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County schools to collaborate for musical

The four Covington County high schools have decided to come together to offer students an exciting opportunity: participation in a joint production of “Shrek: The Musical.” All students in grades 9 – 12 who attend either Florala, Pleasant Home, Red Level, or Straughn are invited to participate.

Mrs. Jennifer Withrow, Pleasant Home English and theatre teacher, will direct the musical.

“Sign-ups and auditions are currently in progress and I want to be sure our parents and community members know about it. We have some very talented students, and I want to get the word out.”

Mrs. Withrow has directed productions at both Pleasant Home and Red Level in the past, but this is the first county-wide musical Covington County Schools has ever done.

“I’m excited about the collaborative efforts and increased arts opportunities for our students,” Withrow said. “We have some amazing teachers in our schools, and this just allows us to pool our talent and give students a truly unique experience.”

Acting is not the only valued talent, however. Set designers, prop crew, makeup and technical crew members, stage and house managers are also needed. Mrs. Tina Shiver, history and humanities teacher at Straughn High School, is in charge of set design.

“Straughn High School students are thrilled to be collaborating with the other county schools on this project,” Shiver said. “My students have assisted with prop and set design for Mrs. Marsha Fowler’s awesome drama department and we are excited to tackle it on an even larger scale for this innovative production. If students from other schools are interested in being on the set design crew, we would love to have them and build new relationships through this unique art form.”

Any interested students should sign-up by going to the Covington County Schools webpage at www.cov.k12.al.us. The form can be found in the Parents and Students section.

Auditions are currently being held in a unique way. Students are making use of Google Classroom as a platform for submitting video auditions in the first round.

When asked about how auditions work, Withrow said “Shortly after students sign up, they will receive an e-mail with instructions for auditioning. Call-backs will be scheduled as needed. There will also be a few available slots for junior high and two for elementary students, so make sure to watch for that announcement at a later date.”

This collaboration is also a partnership with LBWCC, with students performing the musical in the Dixon Center for the Performing Arts on the Andalusia campus in March 2019. Rehearsals with be at the Covington County Schools central office in Andalusia, and at LBW.

Chris Thomasson, federal programs coordinator for Covington County Schools, said he is proud of the innovations taking place in the district.

“CCS has been quietly building its art program for the past few years,” he said. “We have expanded our elementary music program and have weekly classes for every elementary student in the district. We successfully conducted an intensive art program for high school students this past summer and plan to make that an annual event.

“We are encouraging our teachers to incorporate the arts into their daily curriculums and after-school programs,” Thomasson said. “Overall, we are very pleased with the achievements of our endeavors and can see the impact it is having on the development of our students.”

Thomasson said the idea of a collaborative production evolved from a week-long art program this past summer that was funded from an Alabama State Department of Education grant.

“We all know the research tells us that the arts can profoundly impact a student’s personal, social, and academic life,” Thomasson said. “Our teachers have found this to be true in their observations and interactions with their students. Theater and drama require self-control and discipline that will serve the student in all aspects of his or her life.”