NBC'S 'SMASH' MAKE A MUSICAL, School #5 - Wheaton High School, Maryland

NBC'S 'SMASH' MAKE A MUSICAL, School #5 - Wheaton High School, Maryland

Wheaton High School

Silver Spring, MD

Reporter: Cindy Ripley, iTheatrics Senior Education Associate, Resident Master Teacher

January 26, 2012

A strong work ethic is not something I think about regularly, but it was the theme of my “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical” visit at Wheaton High School in Silver Spring, MD. It all started with the cab driver, Francis. Francis is from Nigeria and he couldn't have been more eager to make my trip to this large urban school as pleasant and efficient as possible. When he found out I was teaching kids musical theater, he was ecstatic. This is what he had always wanted to do in Nigeria – teach the arts. His hope is that by moving to America, he is closer to making his dream a reality. What an inspiring message to receive first thing in the morning.

I was greeted by our “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical” team leader, Sarah, as I walked through the doors of Wheaton High School, student body of 1,200. Sarah is a brand-new teacher, who could not wait to absorb everything possible to make this honor the school has received a reality for her kids. This gal has "it”. By "it" I mean that indescribable work ethic that is unstoppable, eager, optimistic, prepared and open-minded. Sarah loves children and is clearly an educator with a purpose – and an exciting one at that.

The work ethic of Wheaton students was above and beyond as well. Eager, respectful and polite, they were willing to make do with lunch on the run just so they could take part in the workshop. A student, Maritza, shared her feelings regarding the contrast between her previous arts-based school and Wheaton High School, where the arts are minimal at best. She beamed in anticipation of being a part of the building process of a sustainable musical theater program, and told me it would make her feel "complete."

Together the students explored the tools that create musical theater. Their enthusiasm and creativity were simply igniting the blank stage! The highly inspired work ethic was contagious. Their teacher was excited, the local NBC news television crew was excited and I was over the moon.  I wanted to take them all home...extra baggage fee or not.

On a daily basis, these kids have a lot on their plates – strong cultural family traditions to uphold, language barriers, school demands – with very few programs for any creative outlet. Not for long, my friends. With the teamwork and respect I saw today, I cannot wait to see what the Wheaton High School students create through this program.

Francis, my driver from the morning, asked if he could return to pick me up and take me to the airport because he really wanted to hear what happened with the kids. Every single person I came in contact with today showed me an inspired work ethic. I am humbled  by the need and desire I have seen at each “NBC’s ‘Smash’: Make a Musical” site. And I have more magic to uncover next week? Hello Pittsburgh!

"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.