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Collaboration takes center stage at Asheboro High School

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After the final bows, Savannah Harn, Karol Morales-Leon, Sam De La Vega, and Zoe Glover jump up and down center stage. It is opening day for “Frozen KIDS” at Asheboro High School’s Performing Arts Center, and for these students and their cast mates who just received a standing ovation, there is much to celebrate.

Harn and Morales-Leon played the famous “Frozen” sisters Anna and Elsa, and Vega and Glover were their on-stage shadows. The pairs have been rehearsing together since February, in the first-ever drama collaboration between the high school’s honors theater and advanced chorus students and students served by the Exceptional Children (EC) department.

On stage, theater students teamed up with the EC students to aid in the performance, which included line readings, music, and dance numbers. The two classes met every Tuesday and Thursday to rehearse for three months.

Olaf and his mentor on stage at Asheboro High School. Caroline Parker/EducationNC

Theater students took on the role as mentors. Agreeing together onstage, they believed the best part about the process was getting to know everyone better.

“It was a very life changing experience,” Vega said, as her fellow mentors nodded their heads in agreement. “You got to learn how to communicate with other people. Just learning how to work with others.”

Glover continued, “And along the way, you get to know the people that you’ve already known for so long, and make new friends.”

Responsible for this collaboration is Asheboro High School’s drama teacher Krista Stewart. She transferred to the district in January of 2023 and has been teaching for 13 years.

“This is for everyone to shine. Empowering every child regardless of their abilities to learn and grow together. That’s what this is all about.”

Barb Skelly, Asheboro City Schools director of EC services

Around 40 students participated in the production — 14 from Stewart’s class, and 14 from the EC department. The advanced chorus students were part of the set and guided the musical with their singing. Various others helped with the set, programs, and backstage, said Stewart.

In the classroom during rehearsals, Stewart said her students “dove in headfirst.” They went above and beyond to learn about their partner’s unique abilities and how to best work with them, said Stewart.

“Because Ms. Stewart embraced this opportunity, her students have embraced it as well. She has opened the door to make this happen,”Asheboro City Schools Director of EC Services Barb Skelly said.

In the audience for the first performance were families of the actors, district students, and members of the board of education.

“I believe that the arts is for everyone and should be inclusive to everyone and we should do it together. This project is not only nurturing connections between students but is also overturning stereotypes.”

Krista Stewart, Asheboro High School’s drama teacher
Caroline Parker

Caroline Parker is the director of rural storytelling and strategy for EducationNC. She covers the stories of rural North Carolina, the arts, STEM education and nutrition.