Principia Middle School students had one goal their first week back this January: create an excellent production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast JR. in five days. While this feat may sound impossible, it’s nothing new to middle schoolers and staff embarking on their fifth annual Theatre Week.
As soon as they stepped foot on campus, this ambitious group of students wasted no time. Breaking into separate crews—acting, set-building, costuming, marketing, and soundboard—they built the production from the ground up. “The goals and expectations for Theatre Week are for the students to see their capacity,” says Middle School Principal Sam Dry. “They are capable of so much if they put their mind to it.”
The business of building a production from scratch in one week can be messy. While students rehearse the lines they learned over break, cues are occasionally missed, and some lines forgotten. But according to Principal Dry, there is growth in these moments of discomfort. “There are a lot of unknowns that arise when you put on a performance. And how the students learn to navigate those unknowns, how they learn to pivot and shift what they’re doing in order to reach their goal, is also a part of what our program does.”
In overcoming these challenges, students learn the importance of supporting their peers. Anna, the actor personifying the iconic candlestick Lumière, notes this learning opportunity is a highlight. “There was a feeling of family the entire time. We learned about how people deal with stress and how to help them through that.”
And while bringing the classic story of Belle and a cursed prince to life was certainly the crowning achievement of all the hard work, the real takeaways were the life lessons learned. “I am just grateful for the experience,” says Anna. “It’s something that I don’t think I’d experience anywhere else. It’s so beneficial for everybody. It’s amazing.”