"Say it Right": Two Catholic High Schools in Conversation about The Laramie Project

Over the next few months, LaramieProject.org will host an online forum between two Catholic High Schools as they rehearse and perform productions of The Laramie Project. Participating in the conversation will be St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, CA and Malvern Preparatory School in Malvern, PA.

Each week a new question will be posted so participating students can respond to the prompts and also to their peers' reactions. We hope this forum becomes a platform for a meaningful cross-country dialogue, establishing these schools as allies as they start important dialogues within their school and home communities. Tectonic sends support and love to both schools and looks forward to engaging in a timely and necessary exchange.

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Week #1: Tell Us About Yourselves! Students from Malvern and St. Bosco share their favorite thing (i.e., memory, event, place) about their school or community. Students: Remember to identify which school you attend! And when responding, think about how you want to represent your neighborhood.

MALVERN: My name is Phil Daubney and I am playing Jedediah Schultz, Andy Paris, Dr. Cantway, and Russell Henderson in Malvern Prep's production of The Laramie Project. My favorite thing about Malvern is that although we are an all-boys high school, we have so many networks between us and our sister schools: Villa Maria Academy and Notre Dame de Namur Academy. One very prominent connection we have is through this theatre department, but others include service opportunities, peer education programs, as well as fundraisers. For a lot of us, most of our best friends come from these three schools, so if this connection between our schools didn't exist, it's very possible that we would never have met one another. 

Malvern Prep. My name is Jim Fry and I am the director of our production of the Laramie Project. I think one of the greatest aspects of working here is our ability to have open conversations about a variety of issues. This play is a great example. In fact, our school newspaper wrote an incredible article in our September edition of the Black Friar Chronicle. The link to this can be found on our blog

http://mpfriarslantern.com/2014/09/23/malvern-theatre-society-to-pe...

MALVERN: Hey, sorry I'm about a week late with this, but better late than never! 

Hello! I'm Michael Gormley. I will be playing the parts of: Stephen Mead Johnson, Cal Rerucha, Gil Engen, Harry Woods and the Arraignment Judge. I am super excited to be involved with not only Malvern's production but it is sooo awesome that we have the opportunity to communicate with people from St.Bosco! I'm looking forward to communicating with you in the future!

MALVERN: My name is Andrew Stetser, and I am playing Doc O'Connor, Baptist Minister, Juror #5, and Church Group. My favorite thing about my school is the Duffy Arts Center. It' s a huge, two story building, dedicated completely to the arts. It's my favorite place on campus, and definitely the place I have spent the most time. Whether it be my music classes, play practice, or just going there to chill, the Duffy Center is what I'll remember most about Malvern when I leave, because of all of the memories that that building has given me, and all of the friends I have made through the arts.

This is very late and I apologize for that.

Week #1: Bosco: My name is Xochitl Pereira. I'm 16 years old and I go to SJB's sister school Saint Joseph High. I'm proud to be playing Eileen Engen, Leigh Fondakowski and Sherry Aanenson. My favorite thing about Bosco and SJ is the community. There are a lot of ways to get connect with people at school. I love the theatre departments at the two schools. I don't know what I would be doing without them. I hope to study theatre in college. My favorite part of the day is getting to rehearsal and then, of course, going home to sleep. 

I am a faculty member at Saint Joseph HS, the sister school of Saint John Bosco. I am on stage as Jonas Slonacker, Gov. Jim Geringer, John Lockwood, and Cal Reruca. This is the 51st show I have helped produce between the two schools and my first appearance on the Bosco stage.

Week #2: What was the school/community response when it was announced you were doing The Laramie Project? What was your personal reaction?

MALVERN: I think the overall reaction was more or less indifferent. Some people have their assumptions about the show, and they're going to stick with those assumptions until they see our production bring the context to life. My own personal reaction was obviously excited, but I didn't know a lot about the show. So naturally at first, I was a little concerned on how my school would embrace the whole concept. Now after rehearsing and reading through the whole thing, I think it's very important that everyone comes to see our production because of how strong the messages are within the text as well as between the lines of the Laramie Project.

MALVERN: Since I'm from an outside girls' school, we haven't had an announcement yet, but when I explained to my family what the play was about, they were a little shocked. All the adults I've talked to about it recalled the Matthew's story fairly well from seeing the national news coverage at the time. I've gotten reactions ranging from "Wow, I'm really glad to see a Catholic school being so forward thinking" to "The administration approved that??" Personally, I think this is an amazing opportunity to be able to bring the message of The Laramie Project to our local community. I hope it's going to open up dialogue in our community about what it means to be accepting of each other.

As the assistant director at MTS, I am thrilled to be a part of bringing this production and its message to our school and community. I have had similar reactions from friends and family as the students have had. Dr. Fry and I have had an overwhelmingly positive response from the administration. Some may be trepidatious about the show itself, but those same people recognize the potential it has to impact discussions, reflection, and change for the students, administration, parents, and community. It is a very exciting time for Malvern to present something so meaningful.
Malvern: At first, many people did not know of the show, nor the context. When I explained it to my parents, they, had heard of the story from when it was in the news. I think most people had different opinions of the topic, but mostly were positive. Right away, my friends started to ask about the plot and became very interested in this. That has been great not only because it might get people to come and see our show, but mainly because this topic is something that most people ignore.
When the play was first announced, I had figured it was just a show that I had never heard of. I was excited to start it. But, once I did research on the show, I found it to be so great that Malvern would be able to put this on stage. I think the main themes are so important and very relevant to today's world.

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