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Drama students ask board to reconsider

The School Board does not guarantee past and present drama students from Citrus High anything more than to consider their suggestions.

Citrus High School drama students made their plea for help to the School Board on Tuesday, asking for a full-time drama position to be reinstated at their school.

More than 20 past and present drama students attended the meeting, many of them pleading that the program be returned to the school and that the old drama room once again be made available to the program.

"What will this world be like without theater?" asked student Jason Varkett. "Not only are we losing a class, but we're losing a part of our American history and our culture."

Former student Kyle Stillwell, who earned an $8,000 college scholarship because of her drama studies, urged the district and the school to reconsider the program.

"I caught the bug, the acting bug," she said. Then her voice cracked with emotion. "I get so emotional because it's turned into a passion and not just a bug."

The drama teacher position was cut by Citrus High principal Gary Foltz after he learned that he had lost two faculty positions for the new school year. The previous drama teacher, John Riggs, had resigned to take another job, and Foltz said he knew he needed to keep his focus on other more academic-related positions with the current push for academic accountability.

After parents and students lodged public complaints about the decision, Playhouse 19 executive director Judy Poplawski stepped forward to volunteer her services to teach four drama classes a day at the school. This would allow juniors and seniors to finish drama credits until the school could re-examine the drama cut for next year.

But the students at Tuesday evening's meeting were anxious to have more assurance that the drama program would be intact for them and for those who come after them.

They said they appreciated the compromise but noted that Poplawski's duties with Playhouse 19 would mean that she couldn't help out with after-school activities, a large part of what the drama program entails.

Poplawski herself urged the board to bring back a full-time teacher and, in the interim, give the program back the old drama room with its stage and dressing rooms.

School Board Chairwoman Patience Nave told the students that Foltz was writing notes to himself about what had been said and she was sure he would take their comments into consideration.

The students have also voiced concerns about future chances of winning scholarships and acceptance to fine arts colleges, which look at a student's participation in drama classes and thespian organizations.

School officials assured them that their concerns are not warranted and that they will receive regular credit for their classes with Poplawski. Foltz has also said he will find a way to work through any other concerns the students might have about the program.