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Teenagers and the Arts

By Kathryn Dean with special guest, Carolyn Dean

As published (and corrected) in December 2016 Connections News.

Years ago in a small town in Indiana a teacher with a love of music and a vision picked three middle school girls who could sing and taught us Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B. We practiced in his classroom during study hall and lunchtime watching the Andrews Sisters version on VHS tape while singing our parts into large colorful foam headed microphones. (It was the 80’s after all.)


Back in the day, Kathryn Dean (center) found her love for performing arts in middle school, photographed here with her co-stars in Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

He spent his own money at the Army surplus store to supply us authentic looking costumes for our debut at the Grandparent’s Day concert. I hesitate to throw around the term “life-changing experience,” but the fun we had pulling that off and the enjoyment of the the audience catapulted me into many years of musical performance.

That love of music has also been passed on to my kids. They’ve been in orchestra, choir, select choirs, and musicals.

Music has many benefits for children and teens. Beyond the proven effects on the brain and academics, performing builds confidence and provides a creative outlet. The emotional component of music also tends to create strong friendships within music groups and shared musical experiences. My daughter, Carolyn, wanted to share this about her experience:

Whether it be the smiles on the audiences faces while watching their children live out a small portion of their dream or it be the shaky hands of backstage teenagers about to go on, the arts are enjoyable for pretty much anyone. The Issaquah school district has done an impeccable job with funding, supporting and allowing these wonderful programs to happen. Being in the cast of the current show has been a blast and a blessing as have many shows I’ve been a part of through these programs. Through PCMS choir I learned so much, and it prepared me for the skills I needed for high school level performing arts. At the same time, I had lots of fun meeting new people and dancing in crazy shows.

Indie Cowan, Hailey Palm, Alaina Dean, Marissa Conter, Kelly Hodder, and Sam Leon goofing around at rehearsal for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Indie Cowan, Hailey Palm, Alaina Dean, Marissa Conter, Kelly Hodder, and Sam Leon goofing around at rehearsal for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Some of these wonderful people include my current cast members in the show “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat”. Hailey Palm shares that through the arts program she’s made lifelong friends and absolutely loves getting the opportunity to perform. Another fellow cast member Sam Leon says everyday he learns something new, for example, how to put on mascara and remove it efficiently. Something he never thought he’d need to know before starring in musicals. Another local Highlands’ resident Kelly Hodder shares that through these programs she’s found a true passion for acting and has enjoyed the wonderful people and environment. I also asked the Director, Ms. Earlene DeLeon, how she felt about working this year at Issaquah High School. She shared with me that starting out she didn’t know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. She stated, “Issaquah High students are some of the most talented I’ve ever worked with – each with an individual range of skills and talents.”

We are privileged to live in a community that strongly supports the arts. Through generous funding from the Issaquah Schools Foundation and teachers dedicated to excellence, our teenagers have opportuniies to grow and flourish in music and art. I’m sure when they are grown, many will be able to point back to a pivotal time when a special teacher or musical moment made the arts forever a part of them…with or without the colorful foam mic.

Support your talented Highlands’ youth at these December performances:

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Issaquah High School, November 30th-December 3rd

Issaquah Middle School Chorus Concert – Tuesday, December 6th, 6:30pm

Pacific Cascade Middle School Winter Concert – Monday, December 12th, 7-9pm

Grand Ridge Chorus Winter Concert – Tuesday, December 13th, 6:30pm

Issaquah High School’s Candlelight Concert – Tuesday, December 13th, 7pm

Evergreen Philharmonic Concert – Saturday, December 17th, 4:00pm*

*This is the correct time, updated from the print Connections, as per the Evergreen Philharmonic website >>