After the Oso slide, Darrington students go ahead with spring play

DARRINGTON — After the mudslide near Oso, Darrington School Board chairman Alan Pickard worked madly alongside many others to help people affected by the disaster that claimed the lives of 43 people.

Pickard, who for years has directed school plays, had to step aside from his commitment to the drama club this quarter.

For a time, students just accepted there wouldn’t be a spring play.

Then Darrington High School juniors Caroline Haywood and Oliver Rankin decided the show must go on.

Instead of trying to wrangle any graduating seniors for the production, they grabbed some talented middle-school students and longtime school volunteer Julie Newberry to help them get it done.

They found six one-act plays they liked, assigned the parts and got to work.

On May 12, rehearsals began in earnest.

Less than a month later, the Darrington actors plan to present their plays at 7 p.m. tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday in the high school auditorium.

“I took on the role of being the adult in the room, but I was pleased to see Caroline and Oliver doing most of the work,” Newberry said. “It makes me want to cry.”

The production had to be, Caroline said.

“We’ve been in plays all through school,” Caroline said. “We can’t not have a spring play.”

The seventh-graders in the production decided they would dedicate the plays to their classmate Denver Harris, who died in the mudslide.

He is missed each day, they said.

At Darrington schools, the flags still fly at half-staff. The halls are covered with posters from students at other schools offering support and encouragement. It’s been a rough three months.

The tragedy can’t take all the good things away, Oliver said.

“This is the best seventh-grade group ever,” Oliver said. “This evening of plays we’ve prepared wouldn’t be great if not for them.”

At a rehearsal last week, the middle school students warmed up with tongue twisters and speeches designed to help them project their voices. Caroline and Oliver worked with them to refine their characters.

Student actors include Max Pickard, Natalie Stewart, Abby Johnson, Rhionna Conley, Raime McCord, Ian Ayers, Natasha Bauer, Kaylee Frazee, Mai Bailey and Jorjah Johnson.

The short dramatic and comedic plays on the program include “All In the Demographics,” “Pokerface,” “Pity the Fool,” “Death Takes the Train,” “The Staten Island Ferry” and “Speed Mating.”

“We hope the community will come out and support the hard work of these students,” Newberry said. “Our town continues to show its strength.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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