NRHS raises fund for theater trip

Published 9:06 pm Monday, October 15, 2012

Tia Price, Christine Pinell, Lauren Hubbard, Tori Tohak, Rolonzo Rawles and Cody Edwards, members of Nansemond River High School’s performing arts program, rehearse “Medea” Monday, which they will perform for the public to raise funds on Oct. 23.

Students from Nansemond River High School’s theater arts program will perform the classical Greek play “Medea” on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. to raise money to attend a theater festival, where they hope to continue a winning streak.

The 2011 Virginia High School League champions for their region plan to compete against 43 other high school programs at the Virginia Theater Association’s High School Theater Festival in Northern Virginia in late October.

The trip will cost $8,000, and a fundraising campaign is inching close that amount, Nansemond River’s Performing Arts Director Joleen Neighbours said.


Email newsletter signup

“The after-school program is completely unfunded,” she said. “The parents here really started realizing the depth of how badly we needed the funds,” and started the Nansemond River Performing Arts Booster Club.

As well as raising money for the trip to Reston, the club also seeks corporate donors to keep the performing arts alive at Nansemond River.

The club will raise money for individual performances alongside actual programs, including theater and choral classes.

“Art brings everything together,” Neighbours said. “It’s a direct reflection of society, and society in turn becomes a reflection of art.

“When students become interested in art … it all comes together. It has cultural value. Students in arts education perform anywhere from 30 to 50 percent better on standardized tests … there’s a greater percentage of them graduate on time and stay in school … there has been a lot of research on all of this.”

Eight of the 22 student members of Neighbours’ department are auditioning for performing arts-related college programs, she said, and her students compete individually in various competitions.

The fundraising “Medea” performance will be held in the school auditorium at 7 p.m., with entry by donation at the door.

The play has “greater depth and breadth” than the typical high school production, Neighbours said.

“I’m a big proponent of the students learning literature and performing literature so that they gain a deeper understanding and think outside the box … about how theater fits with the greater cultural context,” she added.

Neighbours says that the bar should be set high for performing arts programs in schools. “If you set a high standard … they will shoot for that,” she said.

Performing arts students at Nansemond River have also been applying for grants and selling food and apparel to raise money, Neighbours said.

Their 2012-2013 program includes “The Little Mermaid” in April, “The Outsiders” in May, and several “Sweet and a Song” choral events. A Shakespeare night and two dinner theaters are also planned for the school year.

Individuals, companies or organizations wishing to support the program at Nansemond River can contact booster club President Julie Bartley at or Neighbours at or 923-4101.