In an attempt to fulfill the fine arts requirements to attain high school graduation, I ventured into the world of speech and drama my freshman year to get that particular requirement "out of the way." I had no idea what such an adventure would eventually bring. At the age of 14, I qualified for state competition in the arena of speech and debate. Unfortunately, while my school district considered freshman as part of high school, the state viewed freshman as part of junior high. Thus, my invitation was rescinded.
In addition to a variety of speech endeavors, I also attained roles in several school plays during my freshman year. The last of these roles was in the final production of the year, "To Kill A Mockingbird." I was selected to play the part of Atticus Finch. I don't believe there has ever been a time since then that I have attempted to memorize such an immense amount of material.
Learning lines, knowing where to move on stage, picking up cues, conveying the right body language, striking a convincing tone when delivering closing arguments to the jury, are all things that still stick in my mind although this play took place in my life over 40 years ago. I definitely learned some things about acting in this process. More importantly, I learned some things about life.
Reflecting back makes me appreciate the opportunities for learning that have come my way through the years. Mr. Ed Schieffer, thank you for all that you taught me in my first year of high school in speech and drama class. You provided a foundation of public speaking skills that I have been building upon ever since. A class that I took to simply fulfill requirements has brought immense benefit to me in a multitude of ways. Your coaching during my formative years was a true blessing.
Harper Lee, thank you for a script that impacted my life at an early age. May you rest in peace!
Lincoln County R IV High School in Winfield, Missouri
Mr. Ed Schieffer, Director