Athlone High’s art club filled with Glee

HAZEL ALLIES-HUSSELMAN

It has only been a month since Athlone High School started its performing arts programme, and it has already unearthed much talent among the pupils.

Named after the American television series called Glee, the school’s Glee Club has grown from just 10 members in January to 78 in February. The idea of starting a project like this, is the brainchild of deputy principal Vincent Williams, who observed his pupils’ natural talent, and did not want that to go wasted.

Mr Williams heard about the work Joeline Daniels does – a performing arts trainer – and approached her for assistance.

“I’ve always felt our children have so much potential and natural talent. We want to offer the best to our pupils, even though we are under-resourced. Because of the big numbers at school and the socio-economic challenges, which lead to discipline challenges, a performing arts programme is an intervention that can help them discharge all their negative emotions. Teachers already have a full programme, and that’s why I decided to approach the professionals for help.

“With all their talent, we didn’t just want to give them the bare minimum, and we can’t wait on government or sponsors to do things for us. Our children deserve the best,” Mr Williams said.

Ms Daniels runs the Anastacia School of Fame, in conjunction with the Bridgetown Theatre Company. She works with various primary schools in the greater Athlone area, assisting them with their productions.

Said Ms Daniels: “This is the first time I’ve worked at a high school. I have seen how some talent fade away when some children reach high school, because they get involved with negative things.

“I was a bit nervous about working with high school pupils, because I thought that they might have discipline problems. However, the pupils from the Glee Club have become role models now to their peers. It’s amazing to see the talent, and how being a part of this club has helped them forget about the challenges out there – even peer pressure – and it has boosted their confidence.”

Charlene Leukes assists Ms Daniels with drama training, and Matthew Poole teaches dance.

Ms Leukes is already working on a play, which the pupils will be part of. It will take place at Athlone High’s hall, on Friday March 18.

“The play is based on a true story, and it’s about a character named Evi, who is a domestic worker and a mother of four,” Ms Leukes said.

Teri Philander, Grade 10, said she joined the club because she likes singing. “Singing is one of my talents, and I love Glee, so I jumped at the opportunity. I feel strongly that I can make a career of my singing. I am part of a youth band and choir, and I’m hoping to learn to play the piano. I am so enjoying this,” Teri said.