The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

“That’s Not The Shaker That I Knew When I Started Working Here”

Theater department classes may be cut due to falling enrollment
Ollie Karlowicz
A Nov. 14 Flex Block rehearsal for “Mean Girls” occurs in the Large Auditorium while members of the Theater Projects Flex Block sit aside. The stacking of Theater Department classes has made production of the musical, which will be performed Nov. 16-18, more difficult, cast member Lilith Schmidt said.

Due to falling enrollment in theater courses, the department could see classes cut for the 2024-25 school year.

Scott Sumerak, chairman of the Theatre Department, said that students and staff involved in producing shows have been working to encourage people to enroll in classes while also focusing on productions. 

“I’ve been told that if enrollment continues to decline, or does not grow, the district will be re-evaluating the teaching staff that they need for the program, and so that will further cut back,” Sumerak said.

Principal Eric Juli said that he sympathizes with the department. “I want to have the problem of having, you know, 150 students who want to take theater classes, so we have to find a way to get more classes, and more classes, and more teachers in the Theater Department; that’s my goal,” Juli said.

Cutting the classes would mean that Shaker’s theater arts program could be reduced to a club. “That would be sad. That’s not the Shaker that I knew when I started working here 10 years ago,” Sumerak said.

Currently, all Theatre Department classes are stacked, or combined during the same class period, due to dwindling enrollment: Junior Ensemble with Senior Acting Ensemble and Theatre Management with Stagecraft and Design. Junior Ensemble is for students with little acting experience, and Senior Acting Ensemble is for more experienced actors. “We’re having to retool the entire performance curriculum to meet everyone somewhere in the middle,” Sumerak said.

Students and staff agree that combining classes has limited both learning and productivity. Theatre Management and Stagecraft classes are difficult to execute simultaneously because they have divergent needs. “On any given day one of those classes is kind of put to the side so the focus can be on the other class,” Sumerak said.  

Senior Lilith Schmidt, who takes Theatre Management, said that the division of classes has caused limited learning for both. “It’s like teaching a power tool safety class in the same room where kids are trying to learn about budgeting and income taxes,” Schmidt said.

The threats to the department increase pressure to recruit new people to audition and sign up for classes and shows. Freshman Daria Mirodon, who takes Junior Ensemble, said that theater for many people is more than just a club; it can be an all-consuming experience and aspect of their lives.

Said Mirodon, “It’s really stressful how the department’s putting so much pressure on us to recruit new people for theater, when I think it should just be a given.”

Comment using your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail account


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Comment above using your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail account. If you don't have an account with any of these websites, you can comment below with your full name and a valid email address.
All The Shakerite Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *