Suds and drama

Published 10:27 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nansemond River High School’s theater program will be holding several car washes this month to raise money for a fall competition trip.

The car washes will take place every Saturday this month, starting tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pep Boys at 2570 Airline Boulevard in Portsmouth.

Drama teacher Joleen Neighbours said the car washes will be held in Portsmouth because a student’s father manages the store and offered the space and supplies at no cost.

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All the funds raised will go toward sending 24 of the program’s sophomores, juniors and seniors to a three-day Virginia Theatre Association state competition in Reston in October.

Neighbours said she and the students hope to raise $5,000 to $7,000 by September.

“We’re trying to make sure the trip is paid for before school starts,” she said.

So far, they have raised about $1,400.

At the event, 44 schools from around Virginia compete in both group and individual categories, including set design, costume design, technical theater and playwriting.

Nansemond River drama students have gone to the VTA competition every year since 2005. Neighbours said it’s a great chance for the students to see other schools’ programs and to meet theater professionals.

“It’s an amazingly beneficial experience for the kids,” she said.

Also, seniors get the opportunity to audition for major colleges and universities.

Fundraising efforts like the car wash, she said, help supplement the reduced public funds available to school arts programs. Nansemond River’s drama program, like many others across the country, does not receive any public funding.

“In order for us to do any type of after school program, we have to work to get the money for the kids,” she said.

Neighbours said arts education helps students better understand core subjects such as science and makes them more well-rounded individuals.

“The arts are very important, especially when you are trying to affect the whole child,” she said. “We have to foster whatever is going to help them grow to become better functioning adults in the community.”

For more information, contact Neighbours at 923-4101 or by email at