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History takes center stage

Home schooling experiment leads to young theater troupe

Students perform part of the educational youth theater, DRAMAcademics.

Students perform part of the educational youth theater, DRAMAcademics. Submitted Photo

— “Once I started going with it, it was not a difficult process. It just required time and focus,” Henry said. “Once I established basically the outline of what were the important facts of the Erie Canal … (I had to) try to figure out how to present them in a memorable way and in a way that children can relate to.”

As part of the course, Henry has her students research their character in the play or a fact from the script and present it to the class. She also tries to localize the plays as much as possible in order to represent the history right around the area, including a script about Thomas Edison that was performed at the Schenectady Museum in 2006.

Now, Henry directs two musicals a year.

“It’s very rewarding to me. There’s something amazing and affirming about seeing what you have in your mind actually manifest onstage. It’s remarkable to see it coming to life,” Henry said.

Henry recently took 10 of her students to Syracuse to perform scenes from “The Amazing Erie Canal” for the BOCES Arts in Education Showcase. After performing, the students and their families toured The Erie Canal Museum.

“I didn’t really care about history. It didn’t grab me. Now I can hardly pass one of those markers on the highway without wanting to stop and read it,” Henry said.

The students of DRAMAcademics will be performing “Ellis Island ... The American Dream” by Cheryl Kemeny on Thursday, Nov. 15, at St. Basil’s Russian Orthodox Community Center in Watervliet. For more information on performances or the program, visit www.dramacademics.org.

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