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Clear Spring High drama teacher: 'If you build it, they will come'

April 29, 2010|By MARLO BARNHART

CLEAR SPRING -- Little did Beth Smith realize the impact that a performance of "Camelot" at Wolf Trap years ago would have on her life.

That performance pointed her in a direction that brought her back 10 years ago to Clear Spring High School, her alma mater, as drama teacher.

"Art and music are so important for kids," Smith said. "For some kids, high school is their last chance for such an experience."

Smith fiercely strives to maintain a high level of such activities for her students in the wake of budget cuts in art and music nationwide.

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"It really contributes to kids being well-rounded," Smith said.

Just days ago, Smith and a bevy of energetic drama/music students completed performances of "Footloose," a production that relies heavily on singing and dancing.

"We really got excited with 'Footloose,' which requires students who have basic skills plus a lot of stamina," Smith said.

A number of alumni came to help with the production, Smith said. Some parents of cast members also lent a hand.

When the curtain went up, Smith said she was stunned to see that 450 people attended the Friday night performance, a capacity crowd of 550 attended Saturday night and 390 attended Sunday afternoon -- record numbers for student performances.

"I tend to lean more toward musical theater," Smith said. As proof, she noted Clear Spring's productions of "The Sound of Music" and "Cinderella," which she directed.

A native of Clear Spring, Smith graduated from the high school in 1991. She studied classical music in college and earned her undergraduate degree in performance and music education from Shepherd University.

Smith taught at Hancock Middle-Senior High for four years before she returned to Clear Spring High School.

Now a resident of Mercersburg, Pa., Smith is married and has a 2 1/2-year-old son. She has taken postgraduate courses at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va.

Putting on an elaborate production such as "Footloose" is quite a feat, but Smith said it is always worth it.

"I believe in the philosophy that, 'If you build it, they will come,' and they do," Smith said.

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