Write Night takes the stage at PHS

Pelham High School students (L-R) Anna Miller, Ashley Brown and Sarah Banasiewicz at the school’s annual Write Night in the PHS auditorium. (Special/Connie Nolen)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Can you believe that what started as 30 or 40 kids in the auditorium lobby reading poetry, playing guitar, performing skits and eating everything in sight has grown into this?” asked PHS theater teacher Jamie Stephenson last week as Write Night 2011 hit full speed.

“No,” I answered, gazing at a nearly full auditorium. “I’m stunned every year.”

When I first approached Stephenson about commandeering the auditorium lobby for Write Night in 2004, she must have thought I was nuts.  When I told her the magazine staff’s plans for Write Night, she said, “Sure, no problem.  We’ll help.”

Perhaps she thought no one would come. I wondered myself. Would kids really turn out for a celebration of creativity? We don’t wonder in preparation for Write Night anymore. Now, we plan, meet with performers and arrange for teacher and parent volunteers to help serve the food and keep the evening running smoothly.

Having outgrown past makeshift stages in the auditorium lobby and the cafeteria, this year Write Night took the stage in the PHS auditorium. Sound and lighting were excellent. Seating was comfortable. Food and conversation were enjoyed in the lobby —along with a new dimension of Write Night — an art display by PHS artists.

The lobby was stocked with food by devoted and hard-working lit mag staffers, their parents and the contributions of area businesses. Stephenson and her theater crew arranged couches, chairs, coffee tables and lamps to create a coffee-house feel throughout the larger auditorium area. And most importantly, the students performed with amazing artistry.

One student performed a poem detailing his struggle to choose kindness and Christianity daily, ending with a commitment to keep making the right choices. Victor Angel brought the house down with a poem about choosing an alcohol-free lifestyle. Award-winning poets stunned the audience with the honesty of their words. Singers and musicians surprised us with talents not often visible in school. On Write Night, these students shine on stage and hear the applause and cheers of their classmates and families.

Sophomore Ashley Brown sang “Write Night, all writers in the spotlight.  Yep, we’re taking over for just one night!” and Ashley’s exactly right.

On Write Night, writers take the stage and share it with musicians, singers, actors and visual artists creating a magical chemistry, an artsy atmosphere and a Write Night to remember.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.