Nokomis Lights Camera Action Grades K-12, 2020
Parent energy and initiative often bring teaching artists to schools to conduct workshops that supplement and support school arts programs. When invitations to those workshops extend to the community as well an interesting community/school arts link is created. And when the number of workshops reaches a grand scale and the invitation outreach is statewide, something truly newsworthy is going on.
Such a statewide program has been in place for the past three years at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, where Gretchen Gehrke, a Nokomis parent, who was inspired by a program at MIT and by the good work of Nokomis theater teacher Lisa Neal, initiated “Nokomis – Lights, Camera, Action!” (LCA) in partnership with the school’s theater program.
Below is the history and description of “Nokomis Lights Camera Action!” in Gretchen’s words, as well as Gretchen’s invitation to artists and students, and all those who want to be part of LCA in its fourth year, to join them in Newport on Tuesday, February 18th. Read on! (There is a scheduled snow day makeup on Thursday 2/20 if necessary.)
Nokomis High School is located in rural Maine. Nearly 70% of RSU #19 students qualify for free lunch and yet our school system offers so much to our students.
Lisa Neal is the drama teacher for the high school. She is an exemplary and gifted teacher. She also runs a very successful drama club and show chorus. She is an inclusive leader. Her program changes lives. Here is a recent quote from an email I received from the parent of a now graduated student. “Lisa is an entity all unto herself… We were blessed with so many really good/great teachers for our daughter but Lisa takes that above and beyond. I saw how she changed lives for our young people. Literally! I do not know how she does it all. She is a teacher, a mentor, a confidant, sub parent for many and a friend and it doesn’t stop at school or graduation. I see them coming back to her again and again. Our daughter’s class was her first in High School…. And that group of young people have gone on far beyond what they probably would have had it not been for her guidance along the way. Her classes are so much more than just the subject matter. Amazing!”
So, how in a rural and poor location do we support a teacher and program such as that directed by Mrs. Neal?
A recent Nokomis Drama Club production of Bye Bye Birdie involved nearly 25% of the Nokomis student body. Lisa does this with little or no budget. As I am, by nature, a facilitator, I saw a possible opportunity to help Lisa provide continued learning adventures for Nokomis students, as well as additional youth from Maine. Our children have been very fortunate to participate in the MIT Splash Program and in Young Americans. Based on those models the Nokomis Drama Club has begun offering a one-day Splash-like program, “Nokomis – Lights, Camera, Action!” (LCA), focused on dramatic arts during February break. We charge $25 per K-3 student and $50 for students grades 4-12. This fee includes a T-shirt costume and two meals. We allow for ample financial aid. We ask instructors from near and far away to donate an hour or two of their time and expertise to offer workshop classes like MIT Splash focused on the arts. There are classes during the day preparing songs for an evening performance such as Young Americans do in their program. The goal of this learning adventure and fund-raising effort is a combination of daytime drama workshop followed by an evening performance. We offer more than 50 workshops which support Artists, Actors, Authors, Chefs, and Athletes. One need not be interested in drama to enjoy a great learning adventure. As our local taxpayers, parents and school districts are struggling to such extent, it is critical for our program to seek support resources from outside our own RSU.
As with Splash at MIT, classes can reflect instructor’s passions. We offer a small free parent workshop as they do at MIT/Splash. We also offer art, knitting and yoga classes to parents.
We seek students and instructors from across the State of Maine and beyond. We hope that schools and communities support our novel program. Join us! Please do not exactly copy us rather share our day.
Join us, Tuesday, February 18th, 7:30am-8:00pm (K-3 until 12:30pm) at Nokomis Regional High School, located in Newport, Maine for the 4th Annual, Lights, Camera, Action program. This year we host the event at a brand-new Nokomis High/Middle School at 291 Williams Road, Newport, Maine (just across the road from the old school.)
Actors, Artists, Authors, Athletes, Chefs and Musicians, share a full day of workshops, rehearsals, and performance.
Students K-12 are welcomed and taught by qualified and enthusiastic instructors on a wide variety of fun topics. 2019 included over 50 workshop choices.
Following workshops, Grades K-3 concludes with a noontime performance and Grades 4-12 concludes with a 6:30pm performance “Final Act” which demonstrates some of the day’s accomplishments.
Learn More and Register @ www.nokomislightscameraction.com or Facebook Lights, Camera, Action.
What People have said:
“Thank you very much. We cannot believe that a program of this caliber exists in Central, Maine.” -Parent from Brownfield, Maine
“It was such a full day with so many choices. My daughter can’t wait until next year.” – Parent from Pittsfield, Maine
“I learn skills that can help me with my everyday life with building things and every day communication working as a team.” – Maine Central Institute Student
Lisa Neal, drama teacher at Nokomis Regional High School, said the topics help to make learning. “They’re here having fun but what they really don’t know is that they are here learning. They are problem solving and they are thinking on their feet,” said Neal.
Nokomis Lights, Camera, Action involves participants from across the state of Maine as well as Massachusetts into New Brunswick, Canada. LCA welcomes students from school districts across Maine and New England.