First-year electives looking to find dedicated students


Solomon Juarez

photo by Solomon juarezSeniors Kaitlynn Ford and Gabriel Hernandez and freshman Maurice Cheatum do an improv exercise as a warm-up for their sixth period Drama class. They were in a library and the two guys were arguing over who is the father of the girl’s baby.

For students who like to get up out of their seat or act as different personas, Speech and Debate and Drama may be the classes for them.

Electives such as Speech and Debate and Drama had to introduce new material to students and make a solid foundation that the teachers hope will last for future years. Despite having little guidance from other teachers, James Medrano and Tim Allen are working to create a productive learning atmosphere for their students.

“Clearly because speech is new, there was no predecessor before me to hand me a guide,” Medrano said. “It really all just came from my head.” He didn’t do it all by himself. “I’m regularly asking my students for feedback and input.”

As second semester goes on the electives are gradually making progress. “It’s going fairly well,” Medrano said. With him not having much experience with debate he said, “We’re going a little slowly.” His students have enjoyed speech more because it’s focused on the individual. “They are a little shook as to the sudden academic jump and rigor,” he said. “Debate is very group orientated. It takes a lot more time and cooperation, note-taking, and research.”

Senior Cyrus Hinojos has embraced every aspect of Speech and Debate. “The culture is great.” He says his favorite thing about presenting is “making people laugh.” With the new semester he is excited to learn the art of debate. “Arguing is fun sometimes,” he said. “But I’d like to learn how to do it in an organized fashion.”

Drama has had a similar year to Speech and Debate. “It still has some growing to do,” Allen said. After years of not having Drama as an active class on campus he explains the difficulties with trying to reboot the course.

“Most people aren’t aware of the class,” Allen said. With it being an elective he points out that students need elective credits to graduate. “A lot of students don’t know what they’re getting into and just end up in the class.” This causes a lack of enthusiasm and interest within the class, making it hard to get students engaged.

“Drama has been gone from Stagg for four years at least,” he said. “No one really has experience putting on a production or being in one.” Starting a program from scratch means no one knows anything. “That’s been the hardest part. Everyone has to be brought up from square one without having any sort of example.”

Having two levels of drama next year, beginning and intermediate, he hopes to see successful productions and a strong ongoing program. “You need a group of students that are committed to the production and know what they’re doing to guide the students with less experience.”