CHISHOLM — Rehearsals are set to begin for a fall musical involving students from Chisholm High School and Hibbing High School.
As a result of an arrangement between the two school districts, students from HHS are able to join the Chisholm Drama Department, on a one-year trial basis. The program is based out of Chisholm and is headed up by Megan Zubich, drama director at CHS.
Tryouts for the fall musical, the first production of this new venture, were scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 10, and were open to students in grades seven through 12 from both schools.
Chisholm School Superintendent Dr. Janey Blanchard on Monday told Chisholm School Board Directors that the collaboration was proposed by the Hibbing School Board as a solution to the absence of drama coach at HHS. In recent years, the position has been a “revolving door,” making it difficult for Hibbing to continue a drama program.
“Right now, Hibbing kids do not have the opportunity that Chisholm kids do — to participate in a drama club — and we want to offer that to them,” said Blanchard.
In advance of the school board meeting on Monday, Blanchard met with Zubich and Hibbing Superintendent Rick Aldrich. The proposal they came up with involves hiring an assistant coach to help out Zubich with the drama club.
Based on preliminary numbers, Blanchard said there are about 15 or so students from Hibbing interested in drama. Most of them, she said are at the junior high level.
Chisholm School Board Directors voiced support in opening up the drama program at CHS to avoid depriving Hibbing students from pursuing their passion in drama. At the same time, they expressed the importance of looking out for CHS drama students.
Blanchard also mentioned the Pathways class at HHS will be available to create sets. The drama club at CHS will now also have free access to costumes and alike owned by Hibbing.
The plan for this one-year trial is that all practices and performances are to be held in Chisholm, according to Blanchard. If there are performances in Hibbing, they would take place at the Hibbing Community College Auditorium, she noted.
During the public participation portion of the meeting on Monday, Chisholm School Board Directors heard concerns from Jeannie Quirk, on behalf of the CHS Drama Club. Zachary Quirk, a CHS drama student, also shared his concerns.
In their pleas to the board, Jeannie and Zachary Quirk questioned how the combined program would impact CHS drama students, given the limited number of parts for each production. They also raised concerns about transportation and the possibility of One Act play going from A to AA, with the combined program.
Zubich on Monday assured that there would be no changes in the CHS Drama department for this year, with the exception of Hibbing students involved in the program. She also mentioned the added resources Hibbing brings with set design, costumes and props.
Zubich said she welcomes any new talent that students from HHS bring, while at the same time expressing confidence in drama students at CHS.
“Why not, if we can get a strong singer here or there — it’s only going to make our production stronger,” said Zubich.
This is not the first time Chisholm and Hibbing have collaborated on extra-curricular activities. A couple of examples are the shared hockey program and soccer program.
The collaboration for drama will be different as it’s the first program to be hosted by Chisholm.
“It will be a Chisholm Drama Department with Hibbing contributing,” said Blanchard.
Aldrich on Tuesday told the Tribune Press he’s happy to learn that the Chisholm School Board was open to the collaboration. A former principal at CHS, Aldrich understood school board directors’ concerns about pairing and sharing, based on past arrangements.
“This is Chisholm’s program and a win for Chisholm as far as the pairing dilemma goes,” said Aldrich.
Just as Hibbing bills Chisholm per sports participant, the Chisholm School District will now bill Hibbing for the drama club. Aldrich explained the billing formula takes into consideration the cost of the program and the number of participants.
Blanchard said the plan for this year is to have two separate One Act teams. If that happens, she said the Chisholm team would be coached by Zubich, and the Hibbing team by the person hired to the assistant director position. That plan would allow Chisholm to stay at the single A division and Hibbing at the double A.
Aldrich on Tuesday explained combining the drama club is similar to Chisholm inviting Hibbing kids to participate in any after school activity. One Act is different as it’s under the jurisdiction of the Minnesota State High School League, he noted.
At the meeting on Monday, Chisholm School Board Directors approved posting for the drama assistant position. They held off on voting on hiring for the position, while requesting final numbers of participants.
The Chisholm School Board is expected to vote on hiring the assistant drama coach at its next meeting on Monday, Sept. 22.