The fight for a field trip

Lanier High school drama troupe at ThesCON 2022

ThesCon attendee

Lanier High school drama troupe at ThesCON 2022

The Lanier Theatre Company was looking forward to the start of the new semester, but a little stressed nonetheless. With the pressure of their upcoming show, Footloose, the cast and crew were already fidgety. However, to add to that, Gwinnett County made the drastic decision to cancel all overnight field trips. This crossed off the annual theater trip, ThesCon, from the calendar of all Gwinnett County public schools. Although this should have been the immediate cancellation of the trip, theatre directors around the county, including our very own Mrs. Lance, banded together to find a solution. Students had already paid the $300 trip in full and would only receive 50% of the fee back if the trip were to be canceled. Additionally, students who are not registered as ThesCon attendants are not eligible for All-State, major theatre scholarships, and many more opportunities.

For their first attempt, theatre teachers tried to work around the rule. According to Mrs. Lance, they suggested that instead of an overnight trip they could separate it into three day trips. Understandably, the Gwinnett school transportation department declined the idea. Although the bus drivers would have stayed with us for the three days we were in Columbus, their workload would’ve tripled. Making a two-hour drive twice for three days is tremendously more work than driving down to Columbus, staying for three days, and then driving back. However, this letdown did not trump the theater community’s spirit, and they continued their efforts on convincing the county. When asked about her thoughts on the matter Lance said, “There was no way for us to know the [Covid-19] numbers were gonna spike again in January. I think the county did a great job of planning ahead … especially the thespians as well had a whole plan.” Although Mrs. Lance was understanding about the county’s decision, she still had a whole department of students who were relying on the opportunities ThesCon provided. I myself was invited to attend a musical theater intensive in Florida, by simply being noticed at one of ThesCon’s dance workshops.
After what felt like a long wait, but was really only a few days, the county finally made a decision and granted our theater programs permission to attend ThesCon. Lance stated, “As for the reversal of the decision I think they did a good job because they looked at the whole of the group … when you’re looking at the course of almost a thousand thespians, which is literally ¼ of the conference, they were like ‘Hey! The needs of the many…’ and they also looked at how thespians had a plan to keep us safe … so they had us follow the rules, they followed the rules, and everything worked out in the end.”

Although this decision relieved the Lanier Theatre Company, they were still very stressed throughout the waiting period. Kailey Finley, the thespian president, said, “originally the school was being a little bit confusing … they weren’t sharing a good answer for us on what to do, so I was feeling really nervous … I’ve been looking forward to … my first in-person Thescon.” Later when I interviewed her with Nuriyah Irrizary, the chorus president, she also said, “We’ve been planning on being roommates together since we were freshmen, and so the fact that we weren’t gonna get to go was really scary.” To add to Kailey’s comments Nuryiah merely stated, “… I spent $300,” and then sarcastically laughed after.

After two years of waiting, due to Covid-19, most of our theater’s seniors were finally able to attend their first in-person ThesCon. They were thrilled to get the full ThesCon experience at last. Lindsey Douglas, a junior, stated, “I thoroughly enjoyed myself … I liked the workshops and most of the shows, Spamalot was my favorite.”