Seniors in the spotlight reflect on theater


Ryan Helton

From left to right: Lily Canter ’22, SENIOR Alli Robertson and Alumna Christina Picklo.

For years performing arts has been an integrated part of the WHHS curriculum. With the support of its dedicated student following, theater has allowed high school students to address tough social issues in an artistic and expressive manner. 


SENIORS Olivia Busche, Allison Robertson, Campbell Hogue, and Nina Roberto have had many impactful experiences throughout their time in theater.


“The community is always so supportive, and you’re going to make friends. I don’t believe that you can do theater and not make friends,”  Busche said. 


The friend groups are open and welcoming to all new members and by just introducing yourself, you can be a part of the team.


The theater program has helped many students in a plethora of ways. “[Theater taught] me how to be less shy around people. I was a really shy little kid and now, I’m anything but,” Roberto said.


Seniors have had a profound experience with theater, their futures and lives have been affected by it. However, developing these tight knit bonds, among other aspects, has become harder with the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“[COVID-19] has made it a lot more difficult to get things up and running, and we’ve had to start all virtual and my theater classes have been virtual so it’s kind of hard to make a connection when you’re not there with those people and then when we go in person, and are wearing masks,” Busche said.


COVID-19 was not the only obstacle however, in Busche’s case, her biggest obstacle is herself.

During the pandemic Emma Dalton, ’24, and SENIORs Alli Robertson and Megan Graeler had to deal with the COVID guidelines. (Photo courtesy of: Mikki Shaffner)

“When you’re young and trying to fit in it’s hard to be vulnerable and take chances,” she said, “I feel like any teenager can relate to trying to conform or do what you think looks right just to fit in. Theater and performing and being in a safe community has helped me trust myself on stage which has led into the real world. I’m a much more comfortable and competent person because of it.”


Building these skills requires a significant time commitment. Theater is definitely a large part of a member’s daily life.


“I have to structure my school life and my work life around [theater], but it has positively affected me I would say, especially during quarantine. It’s given me something to be motivated about and it’s my happy place,” Robertson said.


Though tough, the time commitment has been worthwhile to some people. This has caused some seniors, like Busche, to pursue a full time career in acting when they graduate high school. Busche has been in the theater program since the eighth grade and since has grown her love for performing arts.


“I am planning on going into theater in college and pursuing it as a full time career when I’m an adult. So I feel like a lot of my life revolves around theater,” Busche said.


Many students who have participated in the program have overwhelmingly positive experiences, regardless of inevitable stress. 


“Tech week,” the week prior to the performance, is known for being very fast paced as actors and actresses perfect the show.


“It can get stressful at times. The hour long rehearsals, super long days… it’s super stressful. But there is upside to that stress level because it does make the production. And it ends up being a good thing, but when you’re in that moment it’s not as fun,” Robertson said.


Despite moments of feeling overwhelmed, students have thoroughly enjoyed their theater experiences. The anticipation for the show is enough to keep the students motivated.


“It’s the thing that makes me the happiest. Performing on stage feels amazing because I can be vulnerable in front of people and be myself, but then it also feels amazing, having been an audience member before, I know the impact that watching other people has had on me and the fact that if I’m up on stage and having an impact on an audience,” Busche said.


Most students would recommend theater to others no matter the grade level. 


“Don’t give up, if you keep going out and they see your face and they recognize you they’re going to respect that,” Robertson said, “And also, don’t be afraid. I know it can be really intimidating but I promise you, everyone is so sweet once you get it and you will find a group of friends, you will find your people.” 


Though some may underestimate the impact that the theatre department has on our WHHS community, many students have found an outlet in which they can express their creativity. The tight knit community leads to a safe haven for personal expression and a runaway from the everyday stressors that come with school.