Haddonfield resident urges public to attend HMHS spring musical as path to healing
If you are like me, you find it impossible to think of the horrific Parkland, Fla. school shooting in 2018 without also thinking about the student survivors and their advocacy efforts after the tragedy. These eloquent, thoughtful, passionate students became the voice of truth, of social justice, and of changing the world in which we live. Perhaps no other group of students has had such an impact on public policy and politics, and their efforts will continue to be felt as they age into voting.
Of the many amazing Parkland students who were seen at rallies and other events, the drama students particularly stood out to me. Their ability to address their pain through their incredible talent and creativity was deeply moving. The drama teacher and the students offered hope to the school and to the community during the darkest of times.
While Haddonfield has not faced the catastrophe that Parkland has, we have had a number of incidents in the past year or two, which have wounded the community. Race-related incidents and insensitive statements have generated conflict in this community we call home. To be sure, there are also many attempts to unify, including newly formed book clubs, efforts throughout the school district, issue-focused Facebook pages and more, which seek to encourage self- reflection and enlightenment. It is in these efforts that we find hope.
We have an opportunity these next few weeks, for community healing and connection, and drama students are at the heart of it. The Haddonfield Memorial High School performance of “West Side Story” runs on selected dates from March 8–16. The tackling of a musical which directly address prejudice and racism, love and grief, pain and solidarity, is timely. The drama cast, crew, faculty and staff have not only worked hard to put on the most ambitious musical from the high school to date, they have approached the characters and the story with sensitivity and compassion. They have done self-reflection around racial and ethnic differences and seek to tell a story that is emotional and demands a new way from all of us.
I remain grateful to the Parkland students for the ways in which they have changed the focus and the national conversation on gun safety based on their experience. Our own HMHS students are offering us a lesson in the danger of hate in this most recent production, and we are called to listen to their voices.
Lisa Eible, DSW MSW LCSW