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This is the second year the program has been back in the area with a new show premiering soon.

PMG PHOTO: GABBY URENDA - Banks High School Junior Sydnee Denslinger (right) plays Sal in the show 'Walk Two Moons.' The show is apart of the school's revamped drama program.

After a decade without a drama program to call its own, Banks High School is kicking off its second year of shows with "Walk Two Moons," which opens this weekend.

Banks School District brought back the program with the help of drama director and language arts teacher Madalyn Hatcher. She started teaching at the district four years ago and realized there was a need in the community, she said.

"(The) kids didn't know if it was going to be successful or how we were going to do it," Hatcher said. "I jumped in and we did it."

Based on the novel by Sharon Creech, "Walk Two Moons" followed the memories of a 13-year-old on a road trip who recounts the disappearance of her best friend's mother.

The show begins on Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. and continues through Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m., with a final show on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.

Hatcher did a test run last year, offering her middle school students an elective theater class. Once given the green light to move forward at the high school, she faced a harsh realities of getting the program off the ground: There were no plans to follow for the best way to move forward, alongside outdated equipment and few resources, Hatcher said.

Despite that, she hopes the club can provide a sanctuary to those who need it.

"Drama really provides that space for (students) to be who they are and explore different emotions and stories and storytelling and to be creative and to be funny and to be silly and to be able to let go of some of those pressures while they're here," she said.

Hatcher had some help from students along the way. Senior Damian Woodruff tried to bring back the program a year before the district was ready to take the leap.

"I was always interested in doing theater and stuff like that, and I'd always go to Hillsboro or Forest Grove," Woodruff said.

Woodruff has gone from being the lone student to show interest in theater part of a cast and crew of 18 for "Walk Two Moons."

"When I was trying to start it up, I didn't know who would actually be interested in this kind of thing," he said. "I'm really glad that they decided to join the club and come out of their comfort zone, and join others and become part of the theater."

Junior Sydnee Denslinger, who plays Sal in "Walk Two Moons," is another student who joined the program early on. She hopes the theatre program can offer students something outside of the norm.

"It's really important for the students' identities and for our identity as a school to have other options for the students that may not be as interested in sports or just want to broaden their range of activities," Denslinger said.

PMG PHOTO: GABBY URENDA - Banks High School Junior Sydnee Denslinger plays Sal in the show 'Walk Two Moons.' She is one of many students a part of the drama program at the school.

After graduation, Denslinger plans to act on the side until she can become a full-time drama teacher at a high school.

That desire to teach drama was cemented in Banks' club, she said.

"(Without the club), I wouldn't have had the confidence to continue to pursue those dreams and to think that it could actually be realistic for me," she said. "Up until that point, I had people telling me that it wasn't a realistic goal for myself and that I couldn't manage to do that."

As for the future of the program, Hatcher hopes to slowly bring back the elements that were once there.

"This year, we're going to attempt to bring back the musical because when theatre was big here, they did have a musical every year and that was something that everybody really enjoyed," she said.

But what she looks forward to the most, is making sure each student is getting the opportunity to participate.

"With continuing the drama program at the middle school, that will help feed into the program here a little bit," Hatcher said. "And that way people start to get more comfortable with the idea of theater and being on stage."


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