By Adam Harris
Frisco senior Kira Rockwell went to a friend’s house before the fall semester began with plans to play board games.
When she left, she had an interview for an opportunity to step closer to her dream. Now, Rockwell is helping kids reach theirs.
The theater major hopes to bring community centers to areas lacking fine arts emphasis in school systems someday.
For now, she spends her Monday and Wednesday afternoons as an after-school instructor at the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco.
The home was opened in 1890 by Joseph S. Key and Dr. Horace Bishop as an orphanage in the Waco area.
The campus housed 26 kids in its first year of operation. Today, it’s called home by around 110 students from the greater Waco area.
“The students can’t live at home for some reason,” said Beth Harris, the home’s recreational director.
She said some were affected by Child Protective Services and others had financial issues in their family lives.
“The average stay at the campus is about a year and a half,” Harris said.
Harris is in charge of various programs, including dances, Fourth of July festivities and the holiday break schedule.
She also oversees an after-school program that allows the kids to become involved with the arts. After meeting Rockwell, she knew she had an instructor for the one-act play program.
“I met Kira through a mutual friend, and we had been looking for a one-act play director,” Harris said. “She signed on to work with us right before school began.”
Rockwell said she was excited to jump into the opportunity.
“I started off in training for the first two weeks,” Rockwell said.
After her training, she began teaching the basics of theater.
“She started off teaching different aspects of theater like sound, lighting and makeup,” Harris said.
Rockwell said at the beginning, it was tough to coax the students out of their shells.
“I think what’s really amazing is that on the first day a lot of people wanted to be backstage and didn’t want to do anything and now they have confidence,” Rockwell said.
Following the theater basics, she said the kids were introduced to various games to help them open up in the class.
“It’s exciting just to see these students trust themselves and be creative and imaginative for a little bit,” Rockwell said.
Students who were far from the spotlight have now taken center-stage, Rockwell said, and she looks forward to their end-of-the-year performance.
Theater isn’t the only after-school program at the Methodist Children’s Home. Harris said the programs are important in getting the students to improve their confidence.
“Our new programs are drama, drum line and choir,” Harris said. “This is our second year with after school programs and the first opportunity for students to get involved with fine arts programs.”
The home, Rockwell said, gives the kids an opportunity to grow and have the care they might not have received before being there.
She’s seen her students grow throughout the semester and is looking forward to their performance.
“The first three weeks they didn’t think they could do it and at this point, everyone trusts each other and they feel like they can be goofy,” Rockwell said.
Above all, Harris said the goal of the program is to build confidence. “Laughter disarms fear,” Harris said. “They’re letting their guard down because they are having a good time.”