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Pay It Forward: Traveling Troupe inspires elementary students to love performing arts

Harriman High School Drama Club students brought storybook characters to life at Roane County elementary schools.

In Whoville, they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day…

And so did the confidence of students in the “Traveling Troupe” at Harriman High School.

“The first one, you’re not really sure what you’re getting yourself into, and you aren’t really sure how the kids will react. But then you understand that they just love it and they were just engrossed in whatever we were doing,” Brooke Jenkins said.

Credit: Andrea Anderson

The Harriman High School sophomore and other members of the drama club performed a shortened version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas for elementary students throughout Roane County.

They traveled to six schools in one day to help get kids interested in the performing arts.

Credit: Andrea Anderson

The idea was made possible by Mrs. Anderson, the leader of the drama club.

“When I was young, truly, about 5 years old, they came into my school and I was so enamored with them and I decided, one day, I’m going to be in theater,” Anderson said.

While life didn’t lead her down that path, she always wanted to pay that feeling forward, so she created the Traveling Troupe.

“I think everybody thought going out ‘oh, this will be so fun’ but when the kids are looking up to them and just screaming and wanting them to hug them, you know, they were characters. They were characters that they saw in a book and they came to life.”

Credit: Andrea Anderson

It’s all part of a bigger goal to make sure that future students see how great the performing arts can be and that the teens in the drama club feel confident knowing they can make a difference in the world.

“When I got into drama club, I saw all that it has to offer and how good it is for every part of life. I don’t think I’d survive high school without it,” Jenkins said.