Theatre Enrichment Programs
From October to April the Hilltown Drama Club (formally the Heath School Drama Club) makes its home at the Hawlemont School in Charlemont MA. Our Theatre Enrichment Program serves students from all nine towns that comprise the Mohawk Trail Regional School District (MTRSD), all four of its elementary schools as well as students from neighboring schools districts (e.g., Rowe, Greenfield and Turners.) Our campuses are nestled among old orchards and pastureland at the outer reaches of the Pioneer Valley. The rural setting, while idyllic, limits access to affordable arts education. Our towns comprise the largest geographic school district in the state, and the poorest. With two thirds of our students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, the Hilltown Drama Club provides access to arts and music education that many families can’t otherwise reach.
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If I were to design a school district today you can be sure the performing arts would be embedded in the curriculum going back to the elementary level. So this opportunity at Heath Elementary with the Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Programs is terribly exciting. Call it a theatrical barn raising, if you will.—MICHAEL BUONICONTI (Superintendent, Mohawk Trail Regional School District)
My fondest memory of my time doing theater at Heath is when we had the entire school participate in the show. It was this giant spectacle. We were making set pieces in the art room. We had guest artists coming into classes and were reading about the show and different aspects of it. When we performed 1776 we took a giant field trip to Boston. We took the entire school and we walked past one of the historical sites that were important to our show. And right then and there in the middle of the road we all started doing theater training, which is kind of unique to our program, it’s unique to devised, physical theater specifically. I remember people walking by and stopping and looking at us wondering what we were doing. And it was just a really fun experience to train right in the places where our shows took place.—OLIVER PHILIP (age 16, Heath School Alum, Summer Ensemble Member, Program Photographer)
I’m more of a track athlete and a singer. In high school I was also on the soccer team. I was a captain. In the Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Programs I find myself drawing on all of these experiences, which is invaluable to me. I like to show the younger children that no matter what you do, you can bring it and be an artist in something.—ELI W. SHEARER (age 18, Summer Workshop Student-Faculty)