Inspiring Okeechobee: Class of 2017, The Spirit of the Drama Club is Inclusion

OKEECHOBEE — By the time you read this, the festivities of the Class of 2017 will be over. The mortar boards will be stored away along with the tassel, the awards will be quickly forgotten in a drawer, as our newest “adult” community members find their way in life. With this said, it is a wonderfully unique experience to see our students move on in this awkward newness of the big scary world that awaits. Whether the path is one of college, technical school or joining the workforce, by the time school bells ring in August to usher in the Class of 2018, this senior class will be either excited to be moving onward or scared that the school life they were used to is no more.

I thought it would be inspiring to share with you two speeches of young ladies from the OHS Thespians end of year banquet. I am certain there were many others who did equally amazing things in the Class of 2017, but these two ladies had my eyes moist and I must confess I sniffled once or twice. My intention was to provide excerpts, but when I began to read and edit, I couldn’t bear to not let you enjoy the whole thing.

Candace McGlamory and Ky Field (at right) at the OHS Thespians end of year banquet.

Senior Ky Field shared this speech: “I asked [Miss] Raulerson if I could speak because I wanted to give the underclassmen a chance I never got. Looking back now at high school there are so many things I wish I knew. So many things I wish I had done. So yes, at the end of the night I’m sure I’ll be a sobbing mess and I’ll hug all of you uncomfortably long, but right now here’s some advice.

Effort is ten times more valuable than talent. This is especially true for our club. If you want to be a part of us just be here. I’m preaching to the choir a little bit on this one, but for anyone faltering because you feel like you’re not enough, don’t blame anyone else. I did. I lost a lot of time because I was too busy pointing fingers and not stepping up to the plate. High school is not the biggest part of your life, but it’s where you can learn to be a better person for the rest of it. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. Don’t be afraid to grow.

My last piece of advice is to not be so focused on making memories you stop enjoying what’s going on around you. This is mostly aimed at the upcoming seniors. Next year you’re going to feel this weird pressure to have the best time of your life. I’m telling you now that it is okay if your senior year isn’t your best year of high school. Don’t get down on yourself because you don’t think this year is what it “should” be. You know what you love to do, I’d bet that it’s probably theatre, duh. So, work hard and have as much fun with this next year as you’ve had with the others. Worry about missing it when it’s actually gone.

I just want to thank everyone so much for the past four years. Raulerson, thank you for being a friend, and a mentor. Thank you for kicking my butt when I needed it. It’s been a long four years, you have seen the best and the worst of me. That’s what makes us family. Thank you to the younger kids, one day you’ll mention me or a show I did and all the other drama kids will look at you like you have two heads. That’s how you’ll know you’re old. Thank you to my class, it’s weird that it’s our turn to finally say goodbye, Isn’t it? I love you all, thank you for being here with me. When I remember high school it’ll be your faces that will stand out, not just as other theatre kids, but as my best friends. Lastly, I want to thank my partner in crime. Candace McGlamory.

Our freshman year banquet we sat together in the back corner and talked about how one day we were going to be president and vice president of this club. Boy, Howdy. We did it. We did everything we said we were going to do. I mean we even got New York. I realize now though that the best part of everything we accomplished was that we did it together. We’re a team till the end. I doubt there’s many people lucky enough to have that. So, I mean I guess I love you or whatever. Take care of this club guys it needs you as much as you need it.”

Candice McGlamory added: “To prepare a speech for this occasion was more difficult than I originally imagined. I’m not unfamiliar with speaking in front of a crowd, but I quickly discovered that public speaking is much easier when things are scripted for you. As the head representative of this club, I sat trying to formulate something that would be inclusive and resounding to every student involved. I tried to figure out what it was we all had in common so that when all of my peers heard me speak they would be left with something they didn’t have before. As a forewarning, that wasn’t the case; because the truth is, most of us don’t have a lot in common. School clubs and organizations are usually meant to help kids find others who have common interests and hobbies as themselves; but as I looked at the many group pictures of our club, I saw a collection of faces all dear to me, but of people that are distinctly different than me. These faces belonged to people I would have never met outside of this club. In my four years here I’ve befriended kids who started singing in church and got dragged to an audition by a friend, football players and wrestlers who didn’t care about their reputation taking a blow for being a theatre kid, small town Okeechobee kids with big city dreams, and quiet bookworms that sit in the back of every class who just needed an outlet.

I belong to that last group. I knew I wanted to be in the drama club after seeing the productions they put on when I was much younger, but I’ve never been much of an extrovert. I was an ensemble member in my first show, and after that production I quickly found my way backstage to work crew. Despite my shy nature, there was never a lonely moment. I never sought out to be in the middle of social huddles, but it seemed I was always included in them. When I first started drama club, these social huddles were collections of different faces, but the same spirit. I realized when writing this that the reason the ragtag bunch of faces that I spent the last four years with, the reason drama club sticks together is the spirit of this club. I joined this club because I love theatre, but the spirit of this club doesn’t have anything to do with theatre production. The spirit of this club is one of inclusion. The people that the faces belong to are so strikingly different, because this club doesn’t cater to a specific brand of person. It has been said that understanding theatre helps us understand what it means to be human.

The drama itself teaches those involved about different ways of life through the lives of characters, but this club has displayed what it is like to create a society where being different is what makes you just like everyone else. Every job in the theatre is important and there is no such thing as a small role. A production cannot be successful if there is a piece missing, and likewise this club wouldn’t have been the same without every single one of its members.

Like I said earlier, this speech isn’t meant to be a moving or touching performance, because every member of this club already knows what I’ve said to be true. I would like to use this speech as a thank you. Thank you to everyone who has ever supported this club. Thank you to the parents and grandparents who have allowed your kids to be a part of this club. Thank you to Miss Debbie Raulerson, who has crafted the spirit of this club and works relentlessly for her kids. And thank you to the members of this club. You have been the kindest of friends and have had the greatest impact on my high school experience. Your faces will forever hold a dear place in my heart.

These kids are our future. I’m inspired by their thoughts, words and actions.

Never forget “effort is ten times more valuable than talent” and that “understanding theater helps us understand what it means to be human.” God speed Class of 2017 and best wishes for a most wonderful future.

Leah Suarez is a freelance writer.

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