Ardmore Middle School’s drama students haven’t ever competed in front of a crowd, but that didn’t stop them from taking second at their first competition last week.
The group competed against five other middle schools at the Norman Schools Novice Drama Tournament at Whittier Middle School in Norman. Eleven of the school’s 15 entries advanced to finals. The team placed second overall.
“We had planned to go to other tournaments, but they kept getting canceled left and right,” AMS
Drama Teacher Wendy Newton said. “We finally got it together for this one, so we took 14 kids and 15 entries.”
Newton said this is her first year at the school, and her first year teaching overall.
“None of the kids at the middle school level, not even the eighth graders, have had drama,” Newton said. “So it was new for everyone. The majority of the kids that went on Saturday had never done any kind of acting or performance in front of a group.”
Newton said she and The Act coach Brian Gunter are making tentative plans to start a speech and debate team at the middle school level as well.
“This year was a little crazy because I was hired so late,” Newton said. “My first day with Ardmore City Schools was the first day of school.”
She said she learned a lot of the ropes of being a drama coach through going to tournaments with The Act, the high school’s speech and debate team. Newton said she has tentative plans to start a theater production class at the middle school level next year, giving students a chance to not only act, but try their hand at tech work, directing and stage managing.
“The class will be very welcoming of people who want to be on stage, but also those who don’t want to be on stage,” Newton said. “There’s so much more to theater than the people on the stage.”
Newton said she and the other speech, debate and drama teachers are still coming up with a name for the new team, but for now they’ve tentatively settled on “The Opening Act.”
“The goal going forward is to have a separate team that will work in conjunction with The Act,” Newton said. “It’s a feeder program. The kids I’ve had will feed into Brian’s program, and they’ll go to theater camp this summer with the high school kids so they’ll have a leg up.”