All the Worlds a Stage… Except for Ipswich


Casey Williams & Maya Williams, Journalist

Lights! Sound! Music! You name it! Theater has been home to these attributes at Ipswich High School for years. When you walk into the Dolan Performing arts center you are greeted with several pictures of plays and musicals from our school’s past. The images include photographs of many students who have gone through the theater program, graduated, and have gone on to pursue their careers in acting. To say the least, Ipswich High School has always been known for their arts program. To dare think of a day where this would be revoked would be devastating. Unfortunately this day has come much sooner than anticipated. 

On February 9th the proposed FY24 budget was announced. This budget had several money saving suggestions for around the district. One suggestion included the cutting of the Ipswich schools only theater class. Furthermore this would mean a significant decrease for the theater department’s budget, and would lead the department to find a new director. On top of that the program would only be able to produce one production a year, most likely a musical. This information would be discussed at the following school committee meeting on February 11th. 

The day of the school committee meeting, several theater students and supporters gathered outside of the PAC holding signs to protest the budget. Students were greeted by news reporters and enthused parents wanting to take pictures. When the meeting started, the students joined the discussion inside the conference room. Many shared their opinions on how the budget would be detrimental to the department, and how theater had overall impacted their lives thus far. However, by the end of the meeting the school committee had decided to pass the cutting of theater class. This was followed by the disheartened students, parents, and faculty, leaving the room before the meeting was officially over. 

Although school representatives argue that there is a lack of student interest in theater, this student can confidently say that theater class has made a big impact on her life. Senior Ella Scobert never thought much about theater before this year, though class scheduling time arose once again and she took a chance on the theater class she hadn’t heard much about. ¨Yes I am taking theater right now, and I really enjoy it. Ms. Hasselbacher is really nice and really tries her best to connect to everyone.¨ Ella stated, showing a light to this theater department. She also mentions how she, ¨ has learned to be more confident in front of her classmates, along with learning stage directions, and some important elements to performing on stage.¨ Seeing that she has been in theater for a few weeks now, Ella mentions how her appreciation for theater has definitely grown. ¨ I think theater is very beneficial; a lot of people find themselves there and find their place there. It’s a safe place for a lot of people and I think it’s important the school keeps up with that.¨ A well stated opinion many people can agree with during this time.

Looking away from the students at Ipswich High School, there are also several faculty members who are upset with the school board’s decision. Ms Kjellson, a science teacher, and a previous thespian, had a few things to say about the influence of theater she has noticed. ¨I think that in Ipswich, the theater is a place where a lot of students can feel at home. Theater creates a place of belonging for a lot of people that can be influential whether or not others see it.¨ Ms Kjellson mentions how she used to participate in many theater productions when she was in highschool, and even today she can see how theater can definitely benefit someone in the future. “ When I was in high school I participated a lot in theater, and I think that having a script and taking on roles of different characters can help you form your world view. You can see if you were to agree with this character and how they make decisions etc. Overall theater can help you view other people and their mindset, which can also help you form your own identity.¨ A point that many people may overlook when talking about theater. It’s more than just learning stage directions and how to memorize your lines; this space can help you form yourself and your own identity. 

As people look over the school board’s decision, and theater in general, it’s obvious that there is much to learn, and room for improvement. The community has banned together more than we have seen recently and decided that this is something we’re willing to fight for. Whether they decide to put theater back on track, or leave it off the roster for a few years, everyone’s support for theater has been substantial. Theater has shaped many people and affected so many lives, so it’s definitely hard to see it fading away. In the words of William Shakespeare, ¨ Parting is such sweet sorrow.¨