NBC's 'SMASH' MAKE A MUSICAL, School #10 - Trimble Tech High School, Fort Worth

NBC's 'SMASH' MAKE A MUSICAL, School #10 - Trimble Tech High School, Fort Worth

School #10: Trimble Tech High School

Fort Worth, TX

Reported by: Cindy Ripley, iTheatrics Senior Education Associate, Resident Master Teacher

February 1, 2012

I always knew Texas was famous for doing things in a big way.  No doubt.  Even walking to the baggage claim in DFW airport, the distance was immense.  But I had no idea that Trimble Tech High School would embody this notion of “big” and fill it with possibility.

The giant vocational high school, made up of 2,000 students, pulls from the entire district of Fort Worth.  It is a place where career-minded kids can choose special majors and find specificity in their educational goals.  This is a school that offers courses in computer animation, culinary arts, plumbing, cosmetology, health science, carpentry, auto body repair as well as print shop, and hospital administration to name a few.  Many of these programs even grant certifications into the workforce.  Athletics are very strong as is the school’s band program.  Now, I invite you to sit back and think about this. How many tech schools have you heard of that are diligently trying to build an arts program?  A gold star goes to this NBC’s ‘SMASH’ MAKE A MUSICAL school.

Led by drama teacher, Cheryl Penland, we gathered around a table bright and early.  One by one, the “big guns” as I call them, walked through the door to join the meeting. They were Dave Ruffin, an AP history teacher and community theater director; Isaac Ristow, a dynamic, young choral teacher who has doubled the school’s choir numbers in two years; Earnest Colvin and Hollis Gordon, two dedicated and talented band masters, and Val Lopez, the art teacher who is a Trimble alumna and wears that pride on her sleeve.  If that wasn’t enough brilliance for one table, in walks Joel Taylor, the district arts coordinator with a video crew comprised of Trimble students.  Only two or three times in my life have I seen such a cross section of arts people on the exact same page.  Their hope is that the honor of receiving the “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make A Musical” program will give their kids the focus and impetus to put a sustainable musical theater program firmly in place. No talking theory – these folks were ready to get to work.

They guided me through a labyrinth of halls and then walked me down one that seemed as long as my trek to baggage claim at DFW. That hallway was the length of the auditorium.  The 1918 vintage 1700-seat “Grande Dame” of Trimble Tech was big. Texas BIG. My voice clearly echoed to the back of the balcony without a microphone.  As if the glorious structure with so many stories embedded in its walls wasn’t enough, the real treasure then arrived onstage:  twenty vibrant Trimble Tech students with the momentum and drive to form a successful musical theater program like this stage has never seen before. These kids quickly digested musical theater pedagogy and screamed for the next step.  They took risks (I didn’t even need to ask!)  and added their own artistic contributions.  It was spectacular.  Their teachers were beaming like proud parents.  Even the cameraman from the local news crew acted like a proud papa!  It was obvious that higher level thinking skills and teamwork were second nature to all these students.

I feel like we painstakingly planned a five course gourmet meal and I was leaving just as we unveiled the appetizer.  The buzz had begun.  Kids were already contacting friends to join their “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make A Musical” project.  I FELT the momentum before I could even navigate my way out of this Texas size building.  BIG has a new connotation for me. “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make A Musical” program at Trimble Tech has the potential to have the "biggest" impact ever!

“NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make A Musical” program is administered by iTheatrics under the supervision of Timothy Allen McDonald.  For more information, or to apply to become a part of the program, logon to www.MAKEAMUSICAL.ORG.