A complete live theater experience — box office, sound, lighting and stage performance – is on tap this year for juniors at Mansfield Senior High School.

A performing arts curriculum has been added to the school’s Career Tech program.

Veteran vocal music director Dirk Eachus (pictured above at right), now in his 31st year in education, will lead the curriculum with assistance from newly hired vocal music teacher Dalton Phillips (pictured above at left). “We have this amazing facility,” Eachus said of the Senior High auditorium. “We want students to experience all aspects of live theater. They will learn how to run the box office and hone their acting, singing and dancing skills. With the help of Mark Morich (digital media teacher) we will provide experience in sound and lighting.

“We also will utilize outside sources for instruction in costuming and makeup.”

Eachus said performing arts students will present “Little Shop of Horrors” on the Senior High stage in the spring. “We also will produce a children’s musical with limited scenery to take on the road to each of our elementary schools,” he said.

Like other Career Tech programs, performing arts will be a two-year offering for juniors and seniors. Because it is being implemented this year, only juniors – about 70 – will be involved. Foundation classes for freshmen and sophomores will be offered for students to determine if they want to follow the performing arts curriculum as juniors.

Phillips comes to Mansfield City Schools from New London Local Schools, where he was a music teacher and director of choirs. He has a bachelor’s degree in music from Allegheny College and a master’s in music education from Case Western Reserve University.

“A number of things prompted me to apply here,” Phillips said. “I really wanted to work with a larger and different population. I was attracted by the diversity. The program here is already established and the facilities are really nice. I found the teachers here to be a valuable asset. There are multiple teachers with 25 years or more experience.”

Phillips will direct the Mansfield Middle School choir and join Eachus in co-directing the Senior High choir, which has more than 115 members. “We will be working together in everything,” Eachus said.

“I’m looking forward to being involved in all of this,” said Phillips, whose talents on the piano earned him the role of choir accompanist when he was in the seventh grade. “I’ve also been singing since the seventh grade but I really fell in love with singing and vocal music in the 10th grade,” he said. “I continued my singing at Allegheny College.”

Students who attain enough career “completers” in stagecraft and choreography could earn as many as six credits to apply at some colleges and universities, Eachus said. “We will provide a lot of solo opportunities. I always love to feature individual talent,” he said.

Eachus emphasized that Senior High’s performing arts program “is not in competition with anyone else.” He specifically mentioned his professional association with Anne Kurtzman, performing arts instructor at Pioneer Career and Technology Center, and expressed the hope that the two programs might collaborate in the future.

“Our performing arts program has been eight years in the making,” Eachus said, recalling that he first discussed it with former Career Tech director Denny Snyder. “Dr. Hernandez (Senior High principal) really pushed for it and Superintendent Brian Garverick always has been a fan of our vocal music program. This will be a wonderful opportunity for our students. They will experience all facets of live performing arts.”

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