Earlier this school year, Camden Street Elementary School announced an innovative new partnership with Randolph High School in Morris County, which resulted in “Ramden Dreams,” an original musical theatre production that premiered at NPS’ Central High School on Friday, May 30 and was performed the following night in Randolph. Approximately 30 Camden students (grades 5-8) from the after school drama and modern band enrichment programs worked for many months with an equal number of Randolph seniors to write, direct, produce and perform the play. The play’s storyline – about an unpopular boy who falls in love with a popular girl, the initial rejection that she and the school community show him and their ultimate acceptance of his friendship – sends a positive universal message about anti-bullying and embracing diversity.
Spearheaded by Randolph High School’s Seth Mitchell, the theatrical partnership came out of an internship the high school senior was doing with nonprofit organization HOPE worldwide NY METRO’s “Increasing the Odds” program.” His goal was to build a strong and sustainable relationship between the two schools, encouraging literacy and helping Camden students develop a passion for the arts through writing, acting, singing/songwriting, choreography, media, and set design. NPS students have had the opportunity to explore these areas in-depth, develop their personal talents, and learn the power of teamwork and collaboration. The students met weekly, traveling alternately to each school, and despite being from very different environments, found common ground and mutual respect through their love of the arts. Building connections that will leave a lifelong impact for both groups has been a bonus.
“I saw the RHS students truly fall in love with these kids, and begin to change, becoming more loving and giving,” Seth Mitchell said. “This project has been so incredible, and though we may be from different places, we learned to celebrate our friendship.”
For all of the Randolph High Students, this has been an opportunity to develop leadership skills, however the school’s principal Deborah Iosso noted that Mitchell has been the heart and soul behind this project.
“What he has accomplished has been amazing – one of those tear jerk moments that keeps us all in this business,” she added. “I have seen such wonderful compassion develop in my students and the students from both schools have touched each others hearts. This goes far beyond the walls of a classroom.”
The teachers and staff from the Camden Street School agree, and are thrilled about their students’ participation in this project. They even reported observing an improvement in their students’ behavior and academic performance.
All in all, “Ramden Dreams” gets rave reviews from both districts.