When students enter high school, they are typically faced with hard decisions about their schedules – what classes to take and what extracurriculars to be involved in. When it comes to athletics and arts, there is often not enough time in the day to allow for participation in both, forcing students to choose one or the other. However, as the cast of Grease, the 2023 Upper School Musical, stood on stage for their final bow of opening night, there was an overwhelming number of student-athletes in line.
Director of Athletics, Molly Miller recalls watching the cast, over 30 of whom were also CCES student-athletes, “a feel good moment that perfectly captured the richness of what it means to be a Cavalier.” As the Head Coach of the Varsity Girls Lacrosse team, she acknowledges the sacrifices coaches made to allow their athletes to do both, but says it was “worth every minute” as she sat in the audience, appreciative of a school community that “fosters a well-rounded student experience.”
Skills learned on athletic fields and on stage through theatre productions have a much larger overlap than one might imagine. Director of Arts, Katie Leckenbusch, calls the production of Grease “a more vibrant show” through allowing students who are engaged in more than one discipline to participate. She emphasizes “soft skills” that students learn and hone during their time in rehearsals and in practice for their teams and says, “It is a joy to watch students translate these skills from the stage to the field, and vice versa.”
Reed Halvorson, Upper School Theatre Teacher and Director of Grease, says “at the outset of auditions, we knew we needed to be flexible to allow students of all grade levels, experience, and availability to participate.” Through the partnership with athletics, Reed and coaches were able to come up with several solutions that allowed athletes to participate. These solutions included alternative audition times for football players who were in the midst of playoffs, communicating with parents and students who participate in sports outside of CCES, and utilizing weekend times for large cast rehearsals. Reed says, “This supportive partnership where students can successfully and joyously participate in both art and athletics makes what we do at CCES extra special.”
Sara Bethi ’23 calls being in Grease “one of the most inclusive environments” she has been a part of while in high school and describes it as “an experience I will remember even as an adult.” She goes on to say, “having a high school experience that included both athletics and arts has enabled me to become a more rounded person overall.”
For Kate DeStefano ’23, being in Grease was a return to the stage for the first time since middle school. She calls the experience “fun and exciting” and says participating in both arts and athletics has helped her “explore new passions and grow existing ones.”
Grease was her first musical experience, but Jaya Chandler ’23 calls it “her favorite extracurricular so far.” The “lively” atmosphere at practices as they learned songs and dances made it a fun and unforgettable experience. Jaya acknowledges how rare it is for students to have the opportunity to be involved in both athletics and the arts and says, “I’m thankful I was able to meet lots of different people that I might not normally talk to through being involved in both [volleyball and Grease].”
Marleigh O’Hanlan ’23 was also new to theatre, and she was blown away by the “spirit of collaboration and joy that guided rehearsals as well as the support cast and crew members had for one another.” Through her experience with being a part of Grease, Marleigh is now considering participating in theatre next year when she goes to college.
Marleigh sums up the Cavalier experience well in stating, “I am thankful for the freedom to participate in the activities that best represent my personality and strengths. My experiences in both sports and the arts have shaped who I am, and I’m incredibly thankful that Christ Church has supported me in these endeavors.”
Senior student-athletes who were in Grease include: Naya Bakaes, Isabel Beckrich, Sara Bethi, Jaya Chandler, Kate DeStefano, Constantine Gandis, Mackenszie Grubb, Mills Howell, Bailey Loging, Jay Lusk, Graham Malo, Marleigh O'Hanlan, and Catalina Ossman