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Students to perform at SCCA

Suffolk students are bringing the arts to the community this week during a special set of performances at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

Theater students from Suffolk’s high schools will present a series of free performances at the SCCA on Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m.

“This is an opportunity to feature the kids, so people can see what is going on in the arts at Suffolk Public Schools,” said Joleen Neighbours, a theater instructor at Nansemond River High School. “We hope it’ll bring more awareness of the arts in Suffolk, particularly what’s happening at the high schools.”

Students from Nansemond River, King’s Fork and Lakeland High Schools will perform pieces they used to compete with at the Virginia High School League’s Southeastern District Theatre Festival on Saturday.

The pieces are all one act plays, lasting about 35 minutes a piece.

King’s Fork will perform “Fortress,” a play about teenage social issues. Lakeland will perform “The Beauty Within,” written by a Lakeland student about teenage bullying, and Nansemond River will perform “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”

“This is a really big deal for us,” Neighbours said. “It’s a great opportunity for the kids to be on a stage.”

Suffolk high schools have been working hard to cultivate the arts in the schools and to help inspire a lifelong interest amongst students.

“They’re definitely excelling at what they’re doing, and they’ll be doing it for the rest of their lives,” Neighbors said. “Acting really helps the kids focus, we find we have fewer behavioral and academic issues with them.”

Teaching children and teenagers about theater is good for them and for the community, as well, officials say.

“This is a betterment for Suffolk as a whole,” Neighbors said. “We’re really trying to take the arts in Suffolk to the next level of artistry.”