Queen’s Grant theater students visit the Charlotte Ballet

Share this:

A group of Queen’s Grant High School dance students went to the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts on Wednesday, March 15, to see the Charlotte Ballet’s production of Sleeping Beauty. The students had the opportunity to see fellow Queen’s Grant senior Sabriyya Dean in the performance.

Queen’s Grant’s sole performing arts teacher, Elizabeth Mills, has worked to build the school’s performing arts program since she began teaching there five years ago. When Mills began working at Queen’s Grant, the school had only been offering theater classes for one year and lacked any dance offerings at all. In her time at Queen’s Grant, Mills has turned a fledgling theater program into a robust performing arts program, particularly for a small charter school.

Mills has taken small steps each year to build the school’s performing arts program to what it it is today. In her first year at Queen’s Grant, in addition to teaching theater classes, she directed a play for the school’s Winter Arts Showcase and started a drama club. In her second year, she began offering dance classes and added a Spring Arts Showcase. The following year, she encouraged her students to write and direct plays for the arts showcases. That year’s spring showcase featured the school’s first student written and directed play by Savanna Von Kaenel, who is about to start directing her third play in a few weeks. Last year, Mills hosted a school-wide playwriting contest in conjunction with a state-wide playwriting contest and started an International Thespian Society troupe.

This is the first year that Mills has been able to organize field trips for her students. In addition to last week’s trip to the Charlotte Ballet, Mills took her drama students to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Matthews Playhouse earlier in March. “I’ve always wanted to take students on field trips because I think it is so important for students to see the things we talk about and do in class being done by real performers in real theaters,” said Mills. “It shows them what performing, scenic design, and costume design are like way better than anything I could explain in class.”

Planning these enriching, real-life experiences can be challenging at a small charter school like Queen’s Grant. Like many charter schools, Queen’s Grant does not have buses, which means that teachers who plan field trips must recruit parent volunteers to drive or secure bus transportation for the day, which increases the cost of the trip for students. Substitute coverage for teachers who take students on field trips is also often limited.

Mills credits Queen’s Grant’s supportive administration and parents with helping to make these field trips happen. “I was nervous about planning the trips because I knew that we would have to raise the money to go and I would have to ask parents to drive students during the school day. I didn’t know if everything would work out and we would actually be able to go,” said Mills, “but on both occasions our parents really came through and made it happen. The administration at QG was also really great about allowing us to go and getting my classes covered so that I was able to go with the students.”

After the show, students had lunch at Mellow Mushroom uptown, and some opted to take a walk through Charlotte’s historic Fourth Ward neighborhood. “It’s important for them to experience new areas of the city they live in,” said Mills. “Our students come from all over Mecklenburg and Union counties, so most students have never been to these theatres and restaurants, or even these parts of town before. For many students, this is an opportunity to try something new, and hopefully it will encourage them to become lifelong theatergoers and bring their own kids to see performances some day.”

[/media-credit] After the performance, students ate lunch uptown and had the opportunity to explore the historic Fourth Ward neighborhood.

Mills continues to work to broaden her students exposure to theater through field trips. “The next thing I’m working on is a trip to see the winning plays of the state-wide playwriting contest,” said Mills. “The winning plays get performed in Greensboro at Triad Stage by UNC-G theatre students and faculty.” Mills hopes to take her student to see the plays as well as visit the Civil Rights museum and tour UNC-G’s campus.

Share this:

Previous articleIndy hands Myers Park first loss of the season
Next articleSusannah Query Remains a Mystery
Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her five-year-old daughter Hannah and her two-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: marybeth@minthilltimes.com