Sequoia Village School teacher Cynthia Mealer is looking to the community for help in sponsoring the school theater program’s next big performance.
Mealer is the science, choir and theater teacher at SVS in Show Low. Over the past seven years, she’s helped her students come out of their shells through the art of theatrical performances.
“We’ve had kids come through the program who couldn’t even imagine getting up on a stage and performing when they first started,” she said. “The confidence increase is life changing for these kids. They’re developing skills they can take out into the real world and apply it to whatever they want to do.”
In March, her program performed “The Little Mermaid,” which proved to be very successful for her students and the White Mountain residents who attended. Mealer said, “We had fliers and posters all over the city. It was so cool to see everyone come together and help support us.”
For next year’s performance, Mealer is hoping to regain some of that support to help her and her students put another show, but first, they need to pay for permission.
While she’s not allowed to speak on the subject matter until the project is paid for, a quick look at the DonorsChoose page she set up shows that the program is planning on doing a rendition of “Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief.”
The musical is an adaptation of the first novel in a series titled “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” by Rick Riordan. Riordan’s series has been adapted into two feature films and will soon be adapted into a television series that will premiere on Disney’s online streaming service.
On Mealer’s donation page, she describes “The Lightning Thief” as “a timeless story of perseverance in the face of impossible odds and is the perfect musical for my small cast of incredible performers to work on at such a time when the program they have lovingly cultivated is facing its own uphill battle.
“This project for the payment of licensing fees will allow us to cover the first major hurdle of putting on this amazing show.”
The subject matter consists of many fantastical elements and requires large, bombastic sets and even larger performances, which doesn’t worry Mealer. The only thing standing in her and her students’ way is the licensing fee of $1,249.42.
With rehearsal and performance audio tracks (about $750) and the DonorsChoose fee (which the site says is used to help “reach more classrooms”), the total cost sits at $2,738.08.
“It’s essentially a GoFundMe but for specifically for schools,” Mealer explained. “Classroom teachers are allowed to put up projects and they can request anything. Some teachers request books, supplies, anything they need, really.
“For me, the most important thing is being able to give my students some kind of musical they can add to their résumé. For some students, this is their senior year, and I’d really hate for them to have their senior year go by and not be able to do one last show.”
March’s performance was partially funded by donations collected through the DonorsChoose page, and Mealer is hoping the community will come together and help her and her students again.
“They send you the scripts and the music, but the most important part is getting the permission to use it. Because we’re such a small school, we didn’t make enough money back to really have any funds in reserve for this year. We’re basically starting from zero,” Mealer said.
Sequioa Village School is now accepting donations to help fund the project.
As of Friday, the project still needs about $2,245, and the Jan. 1 deadline looms closer with each passing day.
The project has already gained a small amount of attention and received donations from people in Arizona, California, Texas and Vermont. Gloria Villarreal from Houston donated to the project and commented, “Happy to support your musical! I know it’s going to be amazing.”
“It’s a universal message that anyone from any walk of life can learn a lot from,” Mealer said. “The idea that we can give these kids that opportunity to teach those lessons and convey those messages; I think that’s really special.”
Donations can be made by visiting donorschoose.org/svschoir.
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