The Dewitt, MI, and Michigan Creativity groups were pleased to showcase a production of Stand and Deliver, last month. The play based on the 1988 award winning film still considered the "Rocky" of educational films. It tells the true story of a group of inner city students from Garfield High School in East Los Angeles who work to prove the skeptics wrong. It also features the relentless pursuit of their new teacher Jamie Escalante from Bolivia. His quirky sense of humor and odd teaching methods coupled with his determination to disrupt the status quo ends up saving students from becoming victims of a failed system and an ill-funded school where gangs, drugs, and dropouts are sadly the norm.
Director Jeff Croley was proudly sharing the theatre stage with his students portraying the role of Jaime Escalante. The role was originally made famous by Edward James Olmos, who played Escalante in the movie and was later nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. Croley, like Escalante is relentless when challenging the status quo and using the art of improvisation to motivate and empower his students to achieve what at first glance seems unbelievable. Escalante used Math to change lives, Croley uses the Dramatic Arts.
Although Stand and Deliver is now nearly 30 years old it is still very much relevant to the many pressing issues currently facing schools, communities, and our country. This story is for anyone who believes in the power of possibility and the limitless pursuit of happiness. It's a show for the supporters of education and for those who desire to the keep the artistry in the teaching profession. It's a show for the doers and dreamers, the underdogs and the underprivileged. It is for those who have fallen victim to broken systems full of arrogance, ignorance, and a lack of opportunity yet still somehow found a way to beat the odds and persevere. It is for the change agents and the workers whose work is not defined by a clock on the wall but rather when the work gets done..
Act As If productions and DeWitt High School are celebrating positive change and the nobility of the teaching profession and those it impacts. Audiences got to escape the chaos for a few hours and see for themselves how a group of caring students and their passionate teacher are sending a message of empathy, empowerment, and hope while striving together to take a step in the right direction.
This show is PG-13 however, it is hopeful, relevant, and heartwarming, continuing efforts to create positive cultures where diversity is warmly embraced and inclusion and respect the norm.
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