Senior Seminar Grads Pay it Forward

AVPA Grads Kevin Mitchell and Adam Caicedo with Barbara Goodhill and Inside Out actors

When Adam Caicedo and Kevin Mitchell handed over a check to Barbara Goodhill of the non-profit Inside Out, it was a happy ending to a long, complicated story. The idea of ‘paying it forward’ was something that the AVPA Theater students had learned, along with many other political and social lessons, during a year that tested them at every turn.

AVPA grad Sierra Parsons sent her thoughts to the next class of thespians coming in with these words; “Your dreams can be achieved. Be yourself, and don’t let yourself get in your own way. We are responsible for the decisions and choices we make. We have the ability to dream and live the life we’ve imagined for ourselves.” Parsons and all the seniors involved in the project metamorphosed from theater students into polished professionals, meeting every obstacle with determination and wit.

What did they learn from the senior seminar? A whole lot more than they thought they would. Putting on a final production was considered a part of the seminar. The graduating seniors of the AVPA Theater class were ready to write, direct and produce their own play. Then they discovered that the school district was unable to support them after their teacher/mentor Ms. Silver was put on medical leave. If the show was going to happen, it needed to be far more independent than they had planned. They needed a venue. They found one.

They produced the show on a very limited budget and with great ingenuity. “Follow the Leader” and “The Veldt” played at the Willows Community School Theater in Culver City, more than meeting the standards for the seminar. The company hoped to recoup their expenses through ticket sales.

The seniors did more than cover the overhead; both shows were nearly sold out. After they paid their expenses, there was $1,420 that could be counted as profit and they decided it to donate the money to an organization that brings theatre to disadvantaged/under-served youth.

One of the seniors in the group, Avery Dresel-Kurtz, mentioned Inside Out (located in Venice), an organization she had been involved with some years ago. After more discussion, they decided this was the place to donate the money. Two representatives from the troop, Mitchell and Caicedo, presented the check onstage to Inside Out after their culminating performance.

While Inside Out was happy to accept the donation, they were also surprised by the generosity of students, and the amount they received; more than a thousand dollars was a large contribution from 17-18 year old thespians. Caicedo and Mitchell joined all of the Inside Out kids onstage, and told their story about triumph over struggle and encouraged them in their theatre work. The audience applauded wildly.

It was a Hollywood ending.

Editor’s Note; While the class of 2011 is off to college, what will be coming up for the next round of drama with the drama department is still unfolding. Keep reading Crossroads for more info.

www.culvercitysymphony.org

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for this opportunity to thank the droves who came to enjoy this extraordinary work — many of whom asked where the proceeds would be donated. Senior Seminar, inspired and begun by Creative Director Sheila Silver, was the culmination of a year of hard work (as was 2010’s “The Yellow Boat” and “Corinthians 6:13”). The goal has always been to celebrate the work and give back to the community.

  2. My hope is that the whole process of “Senior Seminar” would become a tradition at the AVPA, including this last part of “paying it forward”. What a great way for seniors to begin the journey into their world.

    (Thanks for this article.)

  3. It’s so gratifying to see 17-18 year old students with a social conscience! I was fortunate to be in the audience for the presentation of the check and inspiring speeches by Senior Seminar graduates Adam Caicedo and Kevin Mitchell about triumph over struggle.

    THIS is what is important. THIS is what we hope our children will learn, difficult as it is at times.

    Their encouraging words were appropriate and very much appreciated in a community of under-served and at-risk youth and the organization (Inside Out) that helps kids to express themselves in a positive way.

    Many thanks to the Culver City community for supporting the AVPA Seniors in their time of need. They did indeed pay it forward.

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