AVA, Mo. – This winter the Douglas County Extension office offered Skyline Schools the opportunity to participate in a three-month 4-H drama clinic taught by drama instructor Victoria Hutsell. Six Skyline students ranging from fourth to seventh grade participated in the clinic.
“My main goal was to create and foster an interest in theatre with middle school students,” Hutsell stated. “My second goal was to inspire young people to work creatively and recognize that they have a voice, an opinion that has value.”
The group met every other Monday starting in February. During the sessions, Hutsell led the group in theatre activities and warm-ups designed to give students confidence and assurance when performing in front of their peers. Hutsell believes the most important trait these activities taught was self-confidence. In watching the students get bolder and bolder in their activities each session, she definitely believes she achieved her goal.
“The most important thing the students learned from this experience is self-confidence,” she said. “It’s okay to try new things even if you think it’s silly.”
The 4-H program offers a variety of opportunities for students interested in communication arts and theater. The learning objectives designed around 4-H communications projects are to strengthen reading skills, develop writing abilities, enhance public speaking abilities, promote habits and practices that aid the youth in presenting information effectively, and developing a curiosity about new communication issues. Victoria Hutsell felt teaching a 4-H drama workshop would provide late elementary and middle school aged students with foundations and hopefully create an interest in drama and speech as they grow into secondary education.
“It was my hope to develop a love for the arts when students are young and free,” Hutsell stated, “before the teenage years when students become more self-conscious. It is easier to build a high school program if students come in already having some experience in theatre.”
Hutsell will begin her fourth year teaching drama in the fall of 2017. In addition to teaching drama, Hutsell is working on her master’s in speech and theatre at MSU. Hutsell worked as an assistant director in an MSU Tent Theatre production in the summer of 2016. She is excited to teach speech and theatre, feeling it proves so many growth opportunities for students of all ages.
“Theatre teaches students empathy and compassion,” she said. “It also gives students the ability to recognize beauty in the world around them while teaching creativity in problem solving and challenging the students’ perceptions about the world and about themselves. I firmly believe our future is going to need creative leaders and theatre is a great place to learn these important skills.”
For more information on what 4-H offers, contact Dr. Krista Tate at the Douglas County Extension office at 417-683-4409.
Norwood Speech and Theatre teacher Victoria Hutsell teaches Myla Sarginson, Levi Hicks, and Erika Strong theatre games designed to build confidence in group presentations.
Norwood Drama Club member Willie Crawford works with Skyline student Levi Hicks in a drama clinic held at Skyline School throughout the spring semester. The Douglas County Extension Office sponsored the workshop.