Casey Middle School students learn on cue

Casey Middle School students prepare for the YouthCan World Conference, April 2014

Theatrical troupe heads to NYC for the YouthCaN World Conference |

Some creatively inclined students from Casey Middle School have been putting in long hours ahead of a trip to New York City next week. They are attending the YouthCaN World Conference, a prestigious yearly gathering of students from all over the world bent on making a positive environmental impact.

The Casey eighth graders will present an English-Spanish bilingual stage and screen production that they have authored, choreographed, filmed, acted, rehearsed and refined (mostly on Saturdays) with guidance from Boulder’s LOCAL Theater Company, which has provided an educational theater program at Casey three years running.

The show’s premise: A slumber party goes awry when a 1,000-year flood strikes Boulder. Complete with ghost stories and original songs, the production tells about life in Boulder from an eighth grader’s perspective.

“Because every element of the show is driven by the students, it took some work to make all of their ideas simmer peacefully in one pot,” says Mare Trevathan, associate artistic director for LOCAL.

“When we got underway, I asked the students to tell me what they love about their hometown. One said she loved that you could ski and shop in the same day. But for some of kids in the group – kids who have real financial responsibilities within their families – this didn’t ring true at all,” Ms. Trevathan says.

One of the things Casey Middle School does, perhaps better than any other school in Boulder Valley, is blend cultures and build comfort between students whose life experiences are vastly different. This theatrical troupe is just one example of Casey’s approach, but a good one.  Long hours laboring together as writers, artists, composers and actors pays off in all kinds of ways.

“It takes time to disrupt cliques and open kids’ minds to the possibilities of knowing their peers better,” Mare explains. “But theater can do that.”

Student Claire Hathcoat should know. In addition to working with the YouthCaN group, Ms. Hathcoat is an actor in Casey’s spring production of Mulan.

“It may sound cheesy but my main takeaway from (the YouthCaN) experience is that it’s important to stick with what you start,” she says. “We really had to struggle through writing the script and coming up with our story, but I think the show is going to turn out well.”

Some students in the group also will speak at YouthCaN about their experiences giving TED talks. Casey was one of 100 schools worldwide selected by TED-Ed to pilot a new TED-Ed Club late last year.

In addition to conference attendance, the students’ NYC adventure is multifaceted – Broadway show, Harlem church service, all kinds of touring. To keep costs lean, they will stay in a student hostel. Thanks to the always generous people at Boulder Whole Foods, who provided a gift card, the students will pick up groceries at an NYC Whole Foods to prepare their own meals with help from some Casey teachers and parent volunteers accompanying the trip.

Supporters of the trip include Boulder Arts Council, The Millstone Evans Group of Raymond James, California Pizza Kitchen, the Casey PTA and numerous friends and family members of the students. Funding for the trip is still needed and donations are being accepted.

You can see the students’ YouthCaN production at the Boulder Public Library in May. A specific date and time are still coming together, but we’ll let our readers know when announced.

Sofia Althaus, Andy Better, Lindsey Carr, Daniela Chaparro-Ledesma, Celina Damian, Lily Drevno, Emily Escobar, Claire Hathcoat, Peyton Hill, Hope Kotsaftis, Clare Larsen, Lupita Monreal, Silvia Ontiveros, Jesus Salazar, Lesly Sanchez Delgado, Grace Sherman, and Nathaniel Torres

Malinda Hoverstock, Carmen Marquez de Varga, Joyce Loeffler Pierpont, Ian Schwartz, and Val Wheeler (sponsor)

Mare Trevathan and Pesha Rudnick

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