To Theater and Beyond


Dakota Ridge offers a Theater Comprehensive and a beginning Stage Craft class for all 9th to 12th graders, as well as succeeding advanced classes for upperclassmen. For more information, the Course Planning Guide, found on Dakota Ridge’s website, gives descriptions of each class’s course and prerequisites.

Brynn Lemons, Staff Writer

The bell has rung, signaling the end of the school day. Students stream out through Dakota Ridge’s front doors, on their way to a parked car or a school bus, save for the few who stay. Instead, these theatrical few veer towards the auditorium where rehearsals are beginning at three p.m. for the school’s next main-stage production, Once Upon a Mattress.

The lights are dimmed, the theater seats empty, and the backstage is crowded with clothes racks, props, and the heavy scent of sawdust. As Dakota Ridge slowly empties, the auditorium fills with the bustle of students preparing for the next two hours of rehearsal.

These after-school practices are vital for the upcoming musical, but there’s more to theater than learning to recite off-book and play warm-up games, especially for Dakota Ridge’s seniors who are soon to be taking their next great leap into the real world. 

Whether they enter into the workforce after high school or pursue a college career, seniors are tasked with an important decision: what do they want to do? It’s a daunting question, but theater can often hold the answers and the skills.

Photo Credits: Brynn Lemons
Once Upon a Mattress is set to play on Feb. 27-28 in Dakota Ridge’s auditorium. Tickets will be sold online for everyone in the community.

Olivia Kirkpatrick, stage manager and member of the Drama Council, has been a participant in Dakota Ridge’s theater department for the past four years. She hopes to continue theater throughout her college career, double majoring in communications and design and technology.

“It was kind of an accident. My freshman year, I was signed up for an art class, but it was full, so this [theater] was my alternative,” Kirkparick (12) said.

Just as easily as theater fell into her lap, Kirkpatrick also “fell in love with it,” and the statement seems to carry on to Aaron Lowery a member of theater for two years. 

“I just thought it was a really fun environment,” Lowery (12) said.“The community behind it [theater] is so great. It’s so fun to be a part of this and make something.”

Participating in theater has long-lasting effects, developing a person’s self-image, discipline, and problem solving ability. With most theater majors entering into educational or art designing careers, these skills are necessary to succeed and progress.

“Theater has let me grow,” Kirkpatrick said. “I used to be really shy, but I feel a lot more confident. There’s a lot of opportunity to become a leader. It builds confidence, no matter if you’re trying to become an actor or something else.”

Photo Credits: Brynn Lemons
“Theater will always be a part of my life,” Aaron Lowery (12) said, interested in pursuing a major in engineering. “It’s had a significant impact on me. I think, overall, it’s made me a better student. I feel more responsible and I do my work so much better now.”

Ryan Bui, another four-year member of theater, emphasizes the importance it has in building teamwork and communication. “Mainly, it gets you out of your comfort zone,” Bui (12) said, “because theater is such a big club and you have so many different people that are involved.”

“It [theater] can do a lot of different things,” Kirkpatrick said. “It can touch people’s hearts.”

As the sun sets over Dakota Ridge and theater students file out after an evening of rehearsals, the sun also sets over the seniors’ years within the school’s halls. They aren’t walking away empty-handed, though, but rather with the community and bonds they formed in theater and the skills to face the world outside of high school.