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HFCS and Hubbard Hall Collaboration: A Benefit to Students
 

What do you get when you bring a dynamic young theater duo, with the backing of a professional multi-arts center, into a public school thirsting for enriching opportunities for their student body? – New methods for students to experience developmental and personal growth.

Hoosick Falls Central School and Hubbard Hall Projects, Inc., located in Cambridge, NY,  have recently teamed up to offer performing arts related activities in the high school. Don’t be confused, this is not only for the kids in the drama club, it is for all students looking for ways to express their voice in a creative and positive way.

“We are delighted to partner with Hubbard Hall in order to engage our students in learning through theater, arts and music,” said HFCS Superintendent Ken Facin.  “We have had a long relationship with the Hall and this will expand and enhance that relationship.”

Hubbard Hall’s Executive Director David Snider said, “We’re thrilled to partner with HFCS to engage students with all of our offerings here at Hubbard Hall – in dance, theater, and even karate.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for Hubbard Hall to help students at HFCS reach their full potential as individuals and artists and to serve as a key contributor to our community.  I want to thank Ken Facin, Patrick Dailey [High School Principal] and the entire HFCS faculty for their help and support in these new offerings.”

Virginia May “Ginny” Edinger of Greenwich, NY  has been selected to spearhead this collaboration as part of a fellowship through Hubbard Hall.  She is using her experience, education and love for performing arts to guide this initiative.

Ginny, a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy (2014)  and SUNY Purchase (2018), has dual Bachelor’s degrees in Theatre & Performance and Playwriting & Screenwriting. She describes herself as a, “lifelong child of Hubbard Hall”, having taken dance and music classes and been involved in the Youth Theater Program as a child. She has since gone on to perform in plays and operas at the Hall and has taught acting/playwriting intensives for teens and directed and choreographed four summer shows and two winter cabarets with the Youth Theater Program.

“I am amazed by the leadership Ginny exhibited as director of the Youth Theater Program,” said Meaghan Keegan, who’s daughter has been part of all the plays and cabarets Ginny has directed. “What she is able to do with the kids in such a short amount of time is phenomenal. My daughter has grown immensely as an actor under her direction. Ginny has given her opportunities to express herself in an environment where she feels safe and valued and her confidence has been built up to a place that enables her to shine on the stage.”

At Hoosick Falls, Ginny is working to help others shine through a number of activities. One of her projects she is currently working on is a playwriting workshop with 7th and 8th graders to introduce students to the craft by exploring writing techniques, genre, character, environment, authorial intent and dramatic storytelling. Most of all, students will experience the act of writing, editing and workshopping their own dramatic work. By the end of 8-sessions, students will have a “Mini Playwright’s Portfolio” consisting of scenes, monologues, and one ten-minute play.

“This course has been especially fun. Students have been very responsive, receptive, and enthusiastic, “ said Ginny, “It’s been great to watch them experiment and engage with the craft, to watch them explore, push boundaries, and try new things.”

Katherine Danforth is assisting Ginny in an afterschool theater club at the school. Katherine, who has a Performing Arts degree from SUNY Potsdam, has worked with Ginny before, as assistant director for the 2018 production of Peter Pan at Hubbard Hall’s Summer Youth Theater Program.

“I hope to continue working with young people in this field, encouraging them to take risks and to ask those big, scary questions we all face from day to day: Who am I? How do I relate to the people around me? And how can I make myself heard?”

The Theater After School Academy meets 3 times a week and is geared toward a more hands-on approach to theater. Participants are introduced to the fundamentals of acting, including Method Acting, Exercises, Theater Games, Voice & Diction, Movement, Text Analysis, and Improvisation. The students have participated in many acting exercises and improv games which help to improve imagination, problem-solving, character work, listening skills, and response to circumstances.  Ginny admits that at times the activities may seem a bit “crazy” but she loves seeing the students when it all finally “clicks” and they understand why they were brought through a certain process and have found what it means to have a truthful moment in theater.

“The students have responded well to this kind of work, said Katherine, “ I am so impressed by their desire to make personal improvements and to speak truthfully about what they have seen and felt.”  

Ginny reflected, “I am hoping that these seeds of exploration grow into skills that can be used throughout their lives, whether they take away writing skills, public speaking skills, confidence, commitment, analysis, ensemble building/teamwork experience, or just a piqued interest, it will have been worthwhile.”

Having these performance arts programs at school adds to the growing effort to foster the social-emotional development of students at HFCS. Giving them an opportunity for assertiveness, or expressing one’s voice, choice and independence, through acting and writing fits in with the ongoing adoption of The Clover Model out of Harvard University’s PEAR Institute.  To learn more about how HFCS is embracing this model visit: www.hoosickfallscsd.org/social-emotional-learning/.