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Murray Journal

New arts programs added to Riverview Jr. High

Oct 04, 2021 01:45PM ● By Victoria Wetzel

The advanced theatre class practices for the Shakespeare Festival in the auditorium. (Victoria Wetzel/City Journals)

By Victoria Wetzel | [email protected]

Back to school means different things for different people. Parents buy school supplies and make bus and carpool plans. Students choose their electives and put themselves back into the school year frame of mind. 

Mackenzie Barlow and Alexie Baugh, two teachers at Riverview Jr. High School have had a different thing to prepare for.

As of the 2021-22 school year, Riverview added two new programs for students to pick for their electives: a dance class and an advanced theatre class.

“I spent the summer looking at Shakespeare pieces because I knew that would be how we would start,” said Baugh, who will be teaching the advanced theater class.

This is the first time Riverview has had an advanced theater class since the school’s establishment in 1961. 

“I kind of knew we could make the class what we wanted, so I asked the students what they wanted to do [for the year] in the first week of class,” Baugh said. Some of the ideas the students had were stage tech, musical theatre, costume design and playwriting units.

Barlow said she was excited to be teaching a new program at Riverview. “I taught dance for almost eight years, and I am so excited to navigate that. We’re going to be diving into a lot of things this year. We’ll start with line and folk dancing, then we’ll shift over to modern and jazz and then we’ll finish with hip-hop.” 

Barlow has a lot of dancing experience. Throughout her youth, she was in several commercials including one for Get Air and another for Young Living. After high school, she joined the dance group Underground which performed in Salt Lake City, Boise and Denver.         

“Dance can be a new or different way to express feelings and emotions,” said Barlow, on explaining why dance is an important thing for kids to learn. 

“I'm excited to maybe perform in front of people,” said Reagan Fish, an eighth grader participating in the new dance program. “I’m excited to make new friends, friends who like dance, like me. Some goals that I want are to learn to be a better dancer and to maybe go on pointe.”

When asked what theater advice she would give to her students, Baugh replied, “I think the most important thing is to just be willing to try stuff. We do stuff in this class that other people might find a little strange, like we do games that kind of push us out of our comfort zones, and we do some vocal warmups that sound pretty weird sometimes.”

The theater students are set to compete in the Utah Shakespeare Festival this fall.