Our indoor traveling Winter Spectacle takes place to October to April on our campus at the former Heath School 18 Jacobs Rd in Heath MA. Our Winter Program serves students from all nine towns that comprise the Mohawk Trail Regional School District (MTRSD), as well as students from neighboring towns and school districts throughout Franklin and Hampshire Counties. Our campus is 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. Mohawk is largest geographic school district in the state, and one of 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)