Kids say the darndest things
I sat with some of the kids and quizzed them about their experience. Fallsburg’s Melissa Roberts told me, “You get to see how other school programs operate,” and Elizabeth Loarca (who is planning on medical school) claimed that she likes “being immersed in a group of nonjudgmental kids.” Nodding their heads in agreement, others joined the conversation. Classmate Amanni Sitz aims to be involved with film production, saying, “There are so many workshops for techies. I’m learning so much about how it’s all done.” Sixteen-year-old Ilyssa Weiner chimed in, claiming a desire to pursue a broadcasting career, but added that “this conference is helping me build confidence, something that will carry over into all facets of my life.”
The list of workshops included “Comedy Sports,” Garbage Bag Costumes,” “Dance for Non-Dancers,” “Hand to Hand Combat,” and “History of the American Musical Theatre.” Educator Pavloff said, “The kids are kept busy every minute. The conference is structured without ever feeling that way. Teenagers need that, and I’m amazed by the ‘free-to-be-me’ atmosphere that pervades. The weekend provides a safe space for all students, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or sense of style.” Looking around the nightclub, Pavloff became misty-eyed. “For a lot of these kids, this is the most important part of the experience.” As I scanned the crowd, I recalled the NYSTEA motto, “Theatre Transforms Lives,” and I couldn’t help but agree. Future doctors, lawyers, teachers and actors were cheering, hugging and crying as their transformative conference was drawing to a close. Thrilled to have the opportunity to put S.A.D. on hold, I observed two friends hugging. “I’ve never felt this happy!” one whispered to the other. Kids (IMHO) say the darndest things.