CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham High cast from "Anything Goes" gave an impromptu performance in favor of theater arts at the School District of the Chathams Board of Education meeting on Monday night.
Seniors Billy Arnuk, Derek Walsh, Olivia Konteatis, Julien Blanchard, Sarah Thomson and junior Liza Castello each spoke about the value of the Chatham Middle School classes that sparked their passion for the theater. The CMS classes were cut from the curriculum when CMS revamped its cycle classes.
"I don't think I'd be as active as I am today if it weren't for the Middle School cycle class I took," Arnuk said.
Each of the students spoke about how their interest in theater arts began at CMS. The students spoke eloquently about how important the theater arts program was for young Chatham students.
"In theater we work as a team," Castello said. "You can't just put a team together without first learning the techniques."
The board applauded the students and board member Matt Gilfillan, chairman of the finance committee, gave his support for restoring theater art classes at CMS.
"The board is without a doubt committed to the arts," Gilfillan said. "We are in the process of doing what we can to save this program. We are evaluating ways to fund it. It is a top priority. We are hoping for a few things to fall into place that will allow us to refund it.
"Do not think that we were looking to simply cut this. I do believe the support is there. I can't guarantee it, but I can guarantee that you will get the full support of the board up here so that this project can go forward."
Superintendent Dr. Michael LaSusa pointed out that theater arts is still being offered as an extracurricular activity. He explained that at the end of the school year, there could be money available when younger teachers would be hired at lower salaries to replace retirees.
"We're exploring ways to potentially offer it during the school year," LaSusa said. "The cycle curriculum that was approved I feel is an improvement over what we're doing now. When we hire new staff it's cheaper, so we typically have money at the end of the year that gives us flexibility. That potentially would be a consideration of the finance committee to consider staffing a theater position somehow."
Dr. Michael LaSusa talks about the options for CMS theater arts in video below