NBC's 'SMASH' MAKE A MUSICAL, School #17 - Watershed High School, Minneapolis

NBC's 'SMASH' MAKE A MUSICAL, School #17 - Watershed High School, Minneapolis

By Cindy Ripley on March 16, 2012
School #17: Watershed High School

Minneapolis, MN

Reported by: Marty Johnson, Director of Education, iTheatrics

February 8, 2012

As I headed off to Minneapolis, I was not only excited to visit our next school, but I was also excited to see a good college friend who now lives there.  Over lunch, my friend told me her daughter’s school would have loved to be a part of NBC’s ‘SMASH’ MAKE A MUSICAL, but her school is already doing the musical, Fiddler On The Roof JR. However, she assured me that Watershed High School was the perfect choice for the program.

Watershed High School is a small charter school just south of downtown Minneapolis. The school curriculum is designed to educate students through a process that encourages community, creativity, and service. A typical school day includes instruction in Math, English, Science and Social Studies before lunch and then electives after lunch including everything from Fabric Science to Cartooning to Film to the Science of Movement.

During the entire workshop, the faculty, staff and students at Watershed were a true delight. It is clear they enjoy working together, learning from each other, and they all fully embrace the arts.  They are going to offer “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make A Musical” program in the afternoon block of electives to allow all interested students to be a part of it, regardless of their after-school family or job commitments.

From an outsider’s point of view, it might be hard to figure out why the school hasn’t already offered a musical theater program. They offer music and dance classes. They stress creativity. But if you look a little deeper, the challenge is clear. Over the past few years, school funding in Minnesota has been greatly impacted as the state tries to balance their deficit. And this year, the state is currently withholding around 30% of the revenues due to each school until the summer, after the school year ends.  For Watershed, this means they had to let some of their staff members go, and their teachers are working for 70% of their salaries until they receive the "hold-back" money from the state.  That is if the “hold-back” money isn’t lost through additional budget cuts.

So Watershed is in the same boat as many schools. They have no funding for extra programs and they don’t want to burden their teachers with more responsibilities when they know they are already giving their all.  Thankfully for the students of Watershed, and many other schools across the country, “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make A Musical” program directly addresses those concerns and works with the school administration to come up with long term strategies to keep musical theater in the schools regardless of state funding.

My friend was right.  This school embraces all the arts can offer but needs a little help and guidance to make it happen. Watershed could not be a better choice for this program.

“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.