This fall marks the ten-year anniversary of the Gelinas Theater Arts program's teen issues play, an event that each year addresses a different issue that adolescents frequently face.
Last fall the program put on the play which addressed bullying. This year's production is "Choices," which portrays the dangers of sending inappropriate text and online messages.
"It’s a problem that kids are dealing with a lot," said theater arts teacher Bob DePersio, who runs the program along with guidance counselor Debra Johnston. "It ties in with bullying. We’ve seen things happening on the news about inappropriate texting, so we thought it would be a good idea to approach that topic."
"Choices" is an original play written by DePersio and former assistant principal Tony Santana. They are working on obtaining a copyright for the work so that it can be produced in other schools. The play will be performed in school on Wednesday and at a special performance open to the entire community on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m.
"Sending inanppropriate texts is just wrong on so many levels," said DePersio, who described the goal of the play as to encourage students to think about their choices.
"It’s inappropriate. It’s not the right thing to do," he said. "Take a minute and think before you hit send on a photo message or a text message or on Twitter or Facebook."
Ninth-grade students play the majority of the roles, with teachers sometimes stepping in to play the grown-ups in the script.
"We feel that if they get the message from the student body it will definitely make an impression," DePersio said.
The play was written with some help from the students themselves, who had input on the dialogue so that it would be an accurate portrayal of the way kids speak to each other.
According to DePersio, it ties into the a statewide measure that went into effect this year requiring schools to take a more proactive approach to eliminating bullying. He said the target audience isn't necessarily the bullies or their victims themselves.
"The onlookers, the ones that cheer it on, that’s our target audience," he said. "The kids who may walk by it, kids who may cheer it on. Those are the kids we feel can make a difference."