Romeo & Juliet provides students with ‘memorable’ moments

By Gary Weckselblatt

As she left the Quakertown Community High School auditorium, having just seen a professional stage performance of Romeo & Juliet, Anna Tran knew she had witnessed something special.

"From a visual perspective, it makes it memorable," said Tran, a senior and Advanced Placement Literature student. "In a performance like this, the lines stick with you. It's an authentic Shakespeare performance."

Earlier that day, Nick Burch, a high school English teacher, echoed sentiments quite similar.

"They may not remember a lesson on Tuesday in class, but this will be something they'll remember," he said. "These are the authentic moments they'll always take with them. To me, that's why we do this."

Burch, like many of the district's outstanding teachers, helps create memories for students through experiences they can call on years later.

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This unique opportunity for learning took place on Oct. 26, when professional actors from The Linny Fowler Will Power Tour, the centerpiece of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's educational programming, spent the day with Quakertown students, culminating in the performance and a post show question-and-answer session.

The students participating are taking Advanced Placement Literature, ninth- and 12th-grade English honors, and theater.

"It's one more tool for the (AP) exam," Burch said.

Approximately 100 students took part in a variety of workshops with the professionals, while 300 watched the 80-minute play.

Freshman Sophie Schneider, a theater student, took note of "the actors emotions, and how they conveyed fully both their loss and gain with love. … Their lines weren't choppy. Everything was very well planned out."

Sophomore Benjamin Little, a cast member in the high school's fall play, "The Warrior Savage," was surprised to learn the actors only had three weeks to rehearse.

"It impresses me how quickly and effectively they were able to perform so well," he said. "That took me by surprise."

For Burch and his fellow English teachers, Mike Mackey, Rachel Girman, Brett Farley and Ryan Stetler, their enjoyment came from watching the faces of their students, who stood and applauded in a rousing thank you to their guests.

"It's a great day, it really is," Burch said.

Gary Weckselblatt, director of communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at gweckselblatt@qcsd.org and 215-529-2028.

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