In previous years at East, students have attended choir concerts, basketball games, musicals, band performances and more for free if they had a bold letter ‘A’ on the back of their student ID.
The activity pass, which can be purchased at the beginning of the school year for $35, used to cover all student activities. Knowing they can get in for free is extra encouragement for kids to show their school spirit at a volleyball match, a debate tournament or the Lancer Dancer spring show. However, one group has pulled away from the pass.
This year, the theater department is charging students $5 to see a school production, regardless of what’s on their school ID. Those who shelled out the extra cash for the pass expecting free admission to all school activities are out of luck.
While $5 isn’t exactly an amount to throw a fit over, it’s not the price that matters. Just like all extracurricular activities, theater productions provide a valuable experience for those involved. But, with as much work that goes into a production, isn’t it fair for students to see what their peers have been working on for months without paying? Don’t the actors, even those as minor as Villager #5, want their friends to come see them?
With new drama rooms and a renovated auditorium, East’s theater has even more to attract an audience. But making that audience pay for the improvements and to support the school doesn’t seem right. The same goes for other platforms that showcase students’ talents. Orchestra hasn’t established a price for students to attend its concerts. The art department lets everyone see the now biannual art show for free. No one has to pay to watch a girls tennis match.
The most obvious reason behind the new admission price is economic. The money made from ticket sales goes towards things like royalties, costumes, make-up, set and more. With thousands of dollars spent on a production, theater can be a costly department. In past years, they’ve been self-sustaining through car washes, chocolate sales and a certain amount of money from the district. If the theater doesn’t just want more money for more extravagant plays, but desperately needs more funds to remain self-sustaining, it should take note from the various other activities at East.
The Lancer Dancers sell candy and boutineers. Basketball does a free throw shoot-out and has a tournament. Orchestra sells Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough. Softball sends out letters asking family members for donations. Choir did a raffle for a trip to Europe. Wrestling sells pizza coupons. The Harbinger sells ads every issue. Band sells Panera coupons, entertainment books and even batteries.
If selling chocolate bars isn’t a sufficient enough way to make money, theater should have brainstorm new fundraisers. All activities have to find multiple ways to raise money for equipment, uniforms, trips, and more if they’re short on cash. If they ignored the activity pass and charged all students to show their support, they may not have to fundraise. The Harbinger could charge $5 for each issue and not have to sell ads anymore. The athletics department could charge all students $5 for attending a varsity sporting event, but that would mean a student would pay over $200 a year just to see all the home games. When ticket sales get in the way of students supporting their peers, the cost is too much, no matter what the price.
Every other high school in the district charges students to go to plays. But East should be proud to be the only one offering students fine theater for free.