Michael Schwendemann has been known to get emotional, especially when the longtime Huntington High School drama club faculty advisor starts speaking about the seniors who will be departing in June.
The teenagers and Mr. Schwendemann form a nearly indescribable bond over the course of their high school experience and the time they spend together rehearsing and performing the drama club’s fall and spring shows.
Even though he has been through this exercise annually for the past 12 years, Mr. Schwendemann isn’t finding it any easier to let go of the dozen members of the Class of 2017 that have helped elevate Huntington’s drama club to new heights.
This year’s senior ranks include Andrew Aprigliano, Anna Ardell, Amara Ayler, Olivia Baldanza, Jordan Biener, Luis Cuji, Grace Gedeon, Bradley Landberg, Hannah Oleson, Nicole Sevilla, Maddie Shea and Mary Kate Wolber.
“This year’s seniors undertook the most controversial piece I have ever attempted - The Laramie Project - and were able to handle the subject matter with grace and aplomb,” Mr. Schwendemann said. “I could not have been more proud of a group of students; they led the way as they showed the underclassmen how to handle difficult material without fear. Then they proceeded to end their high school careers with a fun and laugh filled production of Once Upon a Mattress, showing off their versatility and ability to handle anything I threw their way. I will truly miss them; though they made me crazy they also made me proud, never failing to bring a smile to my face.”
The recent spring musical provided an awesome sendoff for the talented seniors. They shined on stage during three successive performances and the applause from the crowd let them know just how much their efforts have been appreciated.
The seniors rose to the occasion last Friday night for the first of the weekend’s three shows. The performances were as close to flawless as can possibly be expected on a high school stage. But even more than that, the actors were clearly having fun.
“The show on Friday was absolutely amazing,” Ms. Biener said. “We could feel the energy backstage and everyone was on top of their game. Hearing all the laughter and applause from the audience also pushed us forward and helped us make the show as great as it was. I can’t thank my castmates enough for making the night incredible. We couldn’t have asked for a better opening night.”
It’s hard to envision next fall’s production without these gifted seniors, but as Mr. Schwendemann is fond of saying, “the show will must on.”
“Though it was bittersweet to open my last show at the high school, the Friday night show was a blast,” Ms. Shea said. “It’s such a fun show for the cast to perform and it seems that audience is having fun as well.”
The drama club fraternity is a tightknit group. Many of its alums were in the audience for last weekend’s shows. As the current year’s senior prepare to join the alumni ranks they can take comfort in knowing they have left an indelible mark on the high school stage and have helped prepare the returning club members to carry the torch forward.