Director, actors say the message about education is just as relevant today

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Senior Tabitha Card plays the lead teacher, Sylvia Barrett, in the play about an idealistic young teacher thrust into an inner-city school during the 1960s.

An idealistic English teacher enters an inner New York City high school in the 1960s, navigating administrative bureaucracy and the true needs of her students.

In her first year teaching, Sylvia Barrett confronts issues she had no idea she’d be facing, but ultimately realizes she’s had an inspiring impact on her students.

So goes the plot of “Up the Down Staircase,” a 1960s play being staged at Reynolds High School at 7 p.m. Feb. 27-28 and March 7-8 and 2 p.m. March 1.

“The things the students say and the situations they face were written in the 1960s, but it’s completely applicable today,” said Director Laura Steenson, who is in her first year at the high school after teaching at Reynolds Middle School. “In some ways, not much has changed in the past 50 years.”

A novel written by Bel Kaufman and published in 1965, “Up The Down Staircase” was adapted as a film and stage play.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Paul Barringer, played by Spencer Glaubitz, reads a love letter written by his student, Alice Blake, played by Sierra Graham.

The Reynolds production features 35 students, with Tabitha Card playing Barrett. It is one of three plays performed throughout the school year.

“It’s a play where everything is not always what it seems,” said Sierra Graham, a junior who plays Alice Blake, a student in love with a male teacher, Paul Barringer (played by Spencer Glaubitz).

Marisa Cadungug, a junior, said she enjoyed playing Elizabeth Ellis, a proud nerd who immerses herself in creative writing and openly shares her work in class.

“All the characters have just really come to life,” she said.

Steenson said she hopes audience take away the positive and negative message that things haven’t really changed.

“There are a lot of things we could do to make it better for kids and things that teachers have been asking for 50 years,” she said.


What: Reynolds High presents “Up the Down Staircase.”

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28 and March 7 and 8; 2 p.m. special matinee performance with an admission option of donating three cans of food and a $3 ticket, with all donated food items going to SnowCap Community Charities.

Where: Reynolds High auditorium, 1698 S.W. Cherry Park Road, Troutdale.

Tickets: $8 adults; $7 students and senior citizens; $6 Reynolds students with ASB stickers. Group discounts are available.

Info: 503-667-3186, ext. 1109.

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