Banks High theatre program blossoms


Courtesy of Forest Grove New Times

An image used in the Forest Grove New Times when Banks High School performed “Walk Two Moons.”

By Talia Yake, Staff Writer

     Alongside a wide variety of clubs and programs, Tigard offers a broad arts department to its students—but not every school is fortunate enough to have one. For the last ten years in the small town of Banks, OR, Banks High School was without a theatre department due to limited school funds. Now, as of last year, Banks High has opened up a brand new theatre program to host an after-school drama club and to put on shows for the whole school. The theatre students at Banks High act as mentors for the middle schoolers as well as actors and technicians at their school.

     The theatre program started with Banks Middle School’s language arts teacher Madelyn Hatcher. Hatcher has been a teacher and leader of the drama department at Banks Middle School for six years and has since expanded the middle school’s arts department.

     “I had an elective that I could decide what I wanted to teach, so I decided I wanted to teach drama,” Hatcher said. “From then on, I was trying to expand the program as much as possible.”

     The middle school’s drama class started off as a small class that Hatcher created after learning that the school had been without a theatre department ten years prior. Their first year, the class got to perform a small skit for parents. From then on, the class merged with the high school, where the after school club began. Banks High put on their first play, “Our Town,” written by Thornton Wilder. Since then, the program, and the student’s abilities, have grown from the ground up.

     As the department grew in both schools, so did the relationships between the students. Hatcher explained that the way shows are operated at Banks are very student-run, much like Tigard’s productions. The middle school has a total of three theatre classes—one for stagecraft and tech, and two classes for theatre one and theatre two. Their productions are in-class shows, while at the high school, the auditions held for each show are open to the whole school. Hatcher says that sometimes the high school’s drama club will come to the middle school to help out backstage for the shows and take on the responsibility of being mentors to the middle school students.

     “Sometimes they have to become mentors for the middle school plays, or they’ll help out backstage where they’ll take on those roles as a leader, instead of an actor,” Hatcher said.

     Madelyn Hatcher has put in a lot of work to ensure that her students have a safe and welcoming place to learn and grow as members of the theatre. With the work the students put into raising the money to keep the program they’ve built and grown, it seems that the Banks High School program will stay, and be a home for students in the years to come.