College Experience on a High School Stage


A TASTE OF COLLEGE— (Top Right) Students laugh and joke around while practicing for the fall play, “The Hope and Heartache Diner.” (Bottom) Students rehearse of scene from the play in the Performing Arts Center.

“The Hope and Heartache Diner”: a story about a high school student leaving for college and the fear that comes with the process. Students in the theater program at Thousand Oaks High School will be putting on this play in November. This year, the theater program is a part of dual enrollment. Students playing a part in the play or taking a theater-class will now get college credit for these courses. 

The CVUSD school district partners with Moorpark College to offer classes that count for college credit. In the past, TOHS has offered a statistics class. This year is the first time that theater classes have been a part of this program. 

“We were having difficulty finding a teacher that was…qualified to teach theater programs, [so] we reached out to Moorpark College,” Assistant principal of activities, Kristi Hronek, said. 

Moorpark College agreed to have some of their college professors run the theater program at TOHS. The classes offered are the theater acting and stagecraft classes. One can also get college credits by being a part of the play.

A student who is taking a class that is a part of the dual enrollment program receives three college credits. Even if the student does not attend Moorpark College, he or she can take the credits he or she earned and still try to apply them to the corresponding programs at another school.

College-level classes offered in high school can be an asset to students.

“Taking college classes in high school…shows that you’re challenging yourself in terms of academic rigor…One of the best ways to determine if you’re gonna be successful in college classes is to take college classes and be successful,” Hronek said.

But dual enrollment is not the only new thing in the theater program this year. Freshman Aran Denis will be playing the lead role of the play, Felix Brown. In previous years, upperclassmen played lead roles while the underclassmen had to wait their turn for the spotlight. Denis said they did not expect to be cast as the lead. Yet, in this play, Denis will be the star.

“I went into the audition and I felt I did good and then..I checked the cast list the morning after and I was freaking out,” Denis said.

“The Hope and Heartache Diner” is a tale of a student in their senior year. Play director Nicholas Pappas chose it for the way its story line connects to a student’s life and how relatable the feelings of the main character are.

“I had to find a play that…was…really lovely [and] that…spoke to not only me…but…[also] to a high school audience,” Pappas said. 

The dual enrollment program gives students the chance to earn college credits and show they are serious about their education, while still taking a class that they enjoy. Joining the theater program can also help build new skills that will last a lifetime.