AmeriCorps member Chris has been making waves not only as a college access coach at Westside High School, but also as a drama coach at Fort Calhoun High School. Passionate about the performing arts, Chris recently directed a one-act play, titled The Day the Internet Died.
The play explored the chaos that ensues in a small town when the internet suddenly vanishes. In a society heavily reliant on digital connectivity, the characters navigate through a series of comical scenes depicting the absurdities of a world without the internet. Social media stars resort to printing their pictures in a desperate bid for likes, an online shopper struggles in a physical store, and a girl mistakes a newsstand for Twitter, attempting to broadcast her thoughts.
When asked about his journey in theater, Chris expressed a deep connection to the art form. His journey in the arts began in sixth grade, when he independently pursued theater and music, eventually becoming proficient in playing four brass instruments. As he moved through high school, he performed in one-act plays, and continued to stay active in plays and musicals throughout his college years. During his time in graduate school, Chris expanded his role to encompass more technical responsibilities, delving into light, stage, and sound design. “It’s the escape that theater gives people from their day and from their lives, giving them a moment to laugh or cry,” Chris shared. “That’s my favorite thing about theater.”
He has also written plays and is currently working on a new production centered around a small-town therapist dealing with the antics of teenage relationships and a virtual reality addict.
Reflecting on his recent theatrical endeavor, Chris highlighted the importance of adapting his teaching style to guide students effectively, both on stage and on their way to college. The positive feedback from the community, including an encouraging encounter with a playgoer who commended his directing abilities, reinforced Chris’s commitment to his role as a mentor and educator.
In his role as a coach at Westside High School, Chris extends his passion and guidance to students interested in pursuing degrees in music, theater, or other art forms. As a dedicated advocate for the arts, Chris actively engages with students, offering guidance, support, and a wealth of practical insights drawn from his extensive experience.
Looking ahead, Chris envisions writing and directing more politically charged shows, addressing contemporary struggles faced by students in schools, drawing on his experience as a college access coach. He aims to create impactful performances that spark conversations about the issues prevalent in today’s society.
After supporting students as a college access coach, Chris plans on returning to school to pursue a degree in music education, aspiring to become a band teacher—a dream that has been with him since eighth grade.