The Times
  • ‘CVA Coming Together Project’ captures school merger feelings

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  • ILION — In just 45 poignant minutes, the Central Valley Academy Drama Club captured the range of student, parent and community feelings regarding the merger in their original dramatic piece entitled “Central Valley Academy: Coming Together Project” on Nov. 14, according to a news release.
    Through two in-school performances for students and one evening performance for community members, the troupe traced people’s emotions from the days leading up to the merger until today.
    “CVA:CTP” was written and produced by CVA teacher Mark Bunce with the assistance of Ann Carey and Shannon Enders, adjunct theater lecturers at Syracuse University and Utica College and founders of the Renaissance City Theater Institute. Through multimedia, improvisation, playback theater, music and monologues, student actors explored student, staff and community member feelings about the Ilion - Mohawk merger.
    To prepare, students participated in a series of improvisation activities to uncover the full range of emotions people experienced, from apprehension and doubt to optimism and a sense of accomplishment. Bunce incorporated much of this into the work. The final production was funny and yet serious, reflecting student feelings at Central Valley Academy, according to the release.
    In creating “CVA:CTP,” Bunce hoped to teach his company of 18 cast members and six technicians the power of art in telling a story.
    The audience rewarded those efforts with thundering applause and peals of laughter throughout all three performances, according to the release.
    For the audience, the presentation was an affirmation the journey to becoming CVA was long and sometimes difficult, according to the release.
    The work opened with two small choruses singing alternating portions of the former schools’ alma maters. The combined medley was at first disjointed and confusing, but soon melded into a single piece.
    The group, then dressed in Ilion and Mohawk shirts and jerseys, launched into a lighthearted skit. Individual students declared, “I am Mohawk” or “I am Ilion,” followed by a rapid-fire montage of often heard sayings by their former teachers.
    Other segments emphasized the confusion, fear and anger students felt about competition, new social circles and their parents concerns. They spoke of last graduations, the loss of traditions and the difficulty in saying goodbye to the past.
    The somber mood quickly melted away as the performers stripped away their outer shirts to reveal light blue T-shirts emblazoned with Central Valley Thunder. Everything suddenly focused on the positives that came with the merger. They focused on new sports, new classes, new arts, new colors, a new mascot and new friends. One line summed the feeling, “The potential for Academy is endless.”
    Said one actress, “I am proud and elated to be a student at Central Valley.”
    They reprised their earlier skit with a new twist, confidently announcing, “I am CVA.”
    Page 2 of 2 - They closed with a stirring rendition of “525,600 Minutes,” according to the release.
    “We wanted the students to see that the arts reflect what is happening in the world. And that the arts are a wonderful tool to express the emotions people experience. In this case, we hope we can share the message that change is not always bad,” Bunce said in the release.
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