The Facade of Kirkland Academy

 There is a theatre game, commonly played among high school students; as I know it, it is called "Honey, I love you, but I can't smile," which, the object of the game is to go around in a circle of peers and say something along the lines of "Honey, please give me a smile," trying to get the person to smile. However, if the person does not smile, they say, well, "Honey, I love you, but I can't smile." 

A challenging game for some, but for another some, it is second nature. Getting others to smile, even if it is through measures of intimidation, disturbance, or other forms of emotional manipulation. It is a task I have yet to perfect unless I don't, and I have been pulling the wool over my own eyes.

In high school, well first it's not fair of me to make a generalization before my ramble, so I must preface this first. I go to a charter school in the metroplex of a southern state. Its student body consists of 500 students in K-12, so the high school population is around 100 or less. Being such a small school, word gets around faster than anyone is used to. People are always caught with their pants down when first joining this state-funded public charter. This brings me to my lecture, or rather a radical sonnet of an emotional and possibly bipolar teenager ("possibly" because my diagnosis is pending).

In the small fine arts institution based in "traditional" boys and girls choirs, a decent theatre and dance department, and a pitiful visual art program; every student is subject to the swift colonization of their initially blank reputation. As new members join, (the amount declining rapidly each year) they quickly find out their designated partition of the student body. In the third grade, it's easier, because ones at that age aren't really cast as pariahs and warriors. You walk in, get assigned to one of two third-grade homerooms, do some revolutionary new math, then lunch, where you sit down with either the weird kids, pretty girls, or just a normal group. However, when you grow in those environments, you're molded to be something you wouldn't have expected to in your elementary years. Until high school, an inevitable burst of new, unfair emotions and circumstances arrive. High school is something literally almost everyone will and has experienced, and it will never get easier. Nutshells aside, this column is a perspective on high school life that no one asked for, but one that I hope will help someone in any way possible. I hear you and understand.

Originally, I was going to stay completely anonymous about the people, and school in this column, and for the most part, I will try. I'm going to give the school and people I mention alias names. If there is a chance someone affiliated sees and reveals it, so be it. I am writing about my experiences because I know I am not alone in these experiences. Enjoy!

Kirkland Academy of the Arts was founded in the early two-thousands. Since then, it has catered to the many lost creative souls in the Kirkland area. People even in surrounding cities of the Kirkland area drive their kids forty-five minutes or more, in order to make sure their children have all the creative freedom they can get. This is worth it for the most part, being that the school hires competent instructors who are well-skilled in their profession. However, most are likely to leave within a few years due to what is referred to as "teacher bullying". An issue most common in small schools like Kirkland Academy. Of course, this shrinks the credibility of the education everyone gets attending the school. Even then, the teachers aren't half of why students at Kirkland Academy of the Arts don't thrive as much as they should. It's the students themselves.

It is currently fall of 2023, and Kirkland is producing the musical Sister Act. The director, Dr. Raelynn Sharp, is a woman from Louisiana, resembles Lauren Kennedy and has never sung a single note in front of any of her classes. She is the musical theatre teacher, along with the "coach" of the Kirkland Company of Musical Theatre. Dr. Sharp casts her shows predictably and surprisingly at the same time. This year, a girl who was not called back for Deloris Van Cartier, the lead in the show, was indeed cast as Deloris Van Cartier. This caused an uproar among the fifty people who auditioned, and even some other twenty theatre people convinced that the lead had to be some new freshman. People still claim that Ray (Deloris) only got the role because she is a senior. Not the complete truth. She is talented, but yes Dr. Sharp was most likely keeping Ray on hold for the lead. It is common knowledge she has a reputation for holding out on people to give them a better senior year. 

To close off, I have questions. Why do schools with small student bodies feel so boring yet tense? Have students gotten used to gossip that bullying doesn't exist to some anymore? What role do authority figures play in our lives if they can't recognize our toxic behavior? Do students in our generation know how to live beyond the dependence of other people's suffering?



17 years old

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