Now that the competition season has concluded for the Van Alstyne Theater Department, the Van Alstyne Middle School and Van Alstyne High School Theater Director Jeremy Stein and the high school drama students took time to reflect on the success of the VAHS Theater Department over its inaugural year of creation.

“The first year under my direction has been a success,” Stein said. “The theater department has come out of the gate swinging.”

In the District 3A competition the high school students claimed first place, while Logan Kerhsaw received All Star Tech, Mackenzie Reid was awarded All Star Cast, and Jamie Gregory received an honorable mention.

The students also received fourth place in the Bi-District 3A competition. Maegan Thomas claimed All Star Tech, with Mackenzie Reid and Jamie Gregory earning All Star Cast and Zack Folk earning an honorable mention.

As far as Stein and the students know, the students have never before advanced out of the district, let alone claim first place.

“UIL was definitely an adventure,” sophomore Maegan Thomas said. “… We have had so many fun learning experiences from pantomime and Shakespearian insults to competition.”

Thomas plans to continue her involvement in the Theater Department, as well as Theater Tech in the upcoming year. She sites one of the main goals of the department to be qualifying for states at UIL, while her personal theater goals include running for department president in order to assist in fundraising for needed products.

“This drama department is like a second home for all the students involved,” Thomas said. “It has be such a great and fun experience.”

Current junior Jamie Gregory also praised Stein for advancing the transformation of the theater department. She listed the high school’s haunted house “Asylum” fundraising production from the fall to be her fondest theater experience.

Gregory, who has been involved in theater arts for the past four years, said she enjoyed performing historical monologues, learning about Shakespeare, and performing “Epic Proportions” for the UIL play in the past year along with her classmates. In addition to watching herself and her peers grow as actors and actresses, Gregory said the theater department goes beyond acting for the students.

“Teenage life can be difficult and stressful at times,” Gregory said. “Theater allows us to express what our minds are frightened to say. We get the opportunity to bring something original and unique into the light, and share it with our classmates.”

She added she will always value her high school theater experience.

Stein said the students plan to build on the momentum of the current school year when moving into next year. He stated that the 2017-18 school year will also see an exponential growth in the high school theater program.

The middle school Theater Department also had a successful year with their first place win due to their production of “BABY” earlier in the school year. The middle school will next perform a unique take on Little Red Riding Hood with their family-friendly production of “Totally Red!!” Each class will perform its production of the show on May 18.

“The future of VA Theater is very bright and there will be some amazing work done over the next several years,” Stein said.