The Kingsland High School Drama Club. In front, from left, are Shelby Larson, Josie Bellrichard, Morgan Sanford and Kiara Reichstadt. In back, are Jordan Pokorney, Logan Copeman, Josie Hinze, Paige Webb, Lariah Fox and Colt Hamersma.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
The Kingsland High School Drama Club. In front, from left, are Shelby Larson, Josie Bellrichard, Morgan Sanford and Kiara Reichstadt. In back, are Jordan Pokorney, Logan Copeman, Josie Hinze, Paige Webb, Lariah Fox and Colt Hamersma. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
With 20 members, the Kingsland Drama Club, which was formed in September, has not only bolstered theater in the school, it has also created a close-knit community of students.

The first play since the club was conceived was "The Velveteen Rabbit," performed in January and twice in one-act play contests. Next on the schedule is "Bye, Bye, Birdie" for the spring musical, said Kingsland Drama Club Vice President Jordan Pokorney, sharing what the newly-formed club has done and will do during its first official venture into being incorporated by students who share a common destination - the stage.

The approximately 20 students who have joined the club since it was formed at the beginning of the school year are in grades eight through 12, though it is open to seventh graders as well.

Tim Chappell is director and advisor, club officers include Pokorney, President Shelby Larson, Secretary Josie Bellrichard, Treasurer Colt Hamersma and Assistant Officer Josie Hinze, and once dues are paid to the school, no matter whether one chooses to participate in one production or three, they are considered a member for the entire school year.

Meetings are held either every or every other Tuesday, depending on rehearsal schedules, Larson noted, and officer meetings start about a half hour before the club meetings.

"Officers discuss what we want to do with the club in the upcoming months, budgeting, performances and other such things. Club meetings discuss club schedule, fundraising and we work on theatrical skills that include improv and also technical skills," she said. "Students do not generally co-direct, but Mr. Chappell is very open to our ideas and suggestions. Students take roles as stage manager, make-up, set and costuming committees."

Larson stated that the club's mission is "to build theatrical skills and create a common community or family of students who appreciate all aspects of theater."

Pokorney concurred, "It's to engage more people in theater here at Kingsland and to provide more organization to producing our shows."

Larson noted they work a lot with improvisational skills, testing how you react to set-up situations, thinking on your toes. The students also work on monologues and speaking directly to an audience for an extended period of time. "But no worries, it's not onstage, just in front of fellow club members," she added.

Pokorney related the club has brought organization and ease in producing plays.

"It's nice that we have a more structured drama group. It challenges students to expand their skills and gain a broader knowledge of theater through activities and experience," he said. "It rewards them by giving them knowledge, experience and a sense of team contribution and togetherness."

Those who participate are rewarded through growing "self-confidence," by "stepping outside the box and exploring their creativity," he added.

"What I have noticed is that quiet or shy students are really coming out of their shells onstage or in front of the club through performances, improve games and fundraising," said Larson. "It is a great organization for students to come and enjoy. We do fun activities and students are encouraged to step outside the box."

Larson noted that although all are welcome, it feels like a privilege to be a part of something exciting, new and so close-knit. "We appreciate all our members, and because of the one-act production we just put on, we really feel like a family. Drama Club is a great stress reliever."

Larson hopes that the club grows in members and activities after its charter year.

"It is easy to take an active leadership role," she commented. "We like to have fun, no need to be shy - we love new faces!"

Pokorney invited local residents to "Bye, Bye, Birdie" on May 23 to 25.

"I would like the public to know that it takes a lot of hard work to perform these plays, and we need more people to see them - we can't be taken for granted," he said.