Now entering its 16th season, the Class Acts Sampson CenterStage series has made a positive impact on more than 100,000 students across Sampson County over the last 15 years.
According to Ray Jordan, Expo Center director, nearly 8,200 more students from across Sampson County will have a chance to experience the magic and entertainment of attending one of eight live performing arts events as the new season kicks off April 11-15.
“The Class Acts performances help our students with creative thinking,” Jordan stressed. “The students are exposed to something different and offered a different point of view, and their way of thinking is challenged.”
As part of the Class Acts series, students in grades first through eighth are given the opportunity to travel from their school to the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center and experience a variety of performances specifically selected to align with each grade levels curriculum alignment and standard course of student.
“Performances are not only entertaining,” Jordan said, “but they also provide opportunity for students to learn in a creative atmosphere that adds to and enhances each student’s total educational experience.”
Performances are offered to students in Clinton City Schools, Sampson County Schools and Harrells Christian Academy. In the 15 years of presenting the live shows, Jordan said 105,960 students have been able to attend Class Acts performances and the community has contributed over $400,000 to support the system.
“It’s important that our students are offered the different opportunities that Class Acts provides,” Jordan said. “Not only are the shows fun, they are educational. When choosing which performances we bring, we always look at the curriculum and make sure it applies to each grade level.”
According to Jordan, in an effort to assure that educational standards are being met while students step outside the classroom and into the theater, teachers and students who attended each performance are provided with comprehensive study guides.
These study guides are designed to educate students in advance of each performance and provide teachers with a variety of topics to share with students including; “Going to the Theatre 101,” “Theatre Collaborators” which details the many areas involved with live performances, as well as information detailing the specifics as related to each performance.
Jordan said study guides also include components designed to foster conversation and dialogue between students and their parents following the performance covering a variety of topics including social relationships and character building.
“Each study guide is a great tool to prepare and enhance the theatre-going experience of each student,” Jordan expressed.
Students are given this opportunity free of charge, thanks to the community sponsors and fundraisings that have been held over the years. Over the last 15 years, Jordan said more than $400,000 has been contributed from the community in an effort to fully support the series.
“It’s a really good time,” Jordan said. “As I fund raise over the years, it’s one of the things that people will contribute to because it impacts so many kids. A lot of people always tell that the reason they like the program is it’s quality, entertaining, very educational and it’s for everybody.
“It’s totally paid for by contributions to Class Acts,” said Jordan, noting the only expense to the schools is the cost of getting to the Agri-Exposition Center. “The total dollars generated goes right back into the programming. We raise all the money for it.”
Class Acts has earned statewide recognition for not only the quality of its programming, but for the enthusiastic financial support of the local community which fully sustains the program.
“Many of the students from across Sampson County would not have the opportunity to attend these type performances if it were not for this series,”Gerald Warren, Sampson County Exposition Center board member said. “These types events would not be possible because of the lack of funding provided for the arts in our schools.”
The Class Acts started as a way to grow a local audience for the adult Performing Arts series, which started in 1999-2000 and was suspended in 2009 amid a downed economy.
Four performances have been scheduled for this year’s season, which kicks off April 11, with One Noble Journey, a deeply rich journey to where dignity stands tall. In a Mark Twain-like adventure, North Carolina actor Mike Wiley gives an amazing portrayal of 20 characters, including Henry “Box” Brown.
The second show will be held on April 12, when students attend the performance Happily Ever After and will certainly laugh out loud at hilarious renditions of some of the best from the Grimm Brothers’ iconic works.
Jack’s Adventure in American History is scheduled for April 13, and will follow Jack as he crams for his upcoming history test. When his history book magically bursts, Jack meets some of the most exciting people in our nation’s history.
The closing performance of the season, Taking it to the Streets, is scheduled for April 15 and will be performed by one of the most dynamic dance companies in existence, the Houston, Texas, based Soul Street Dance Company.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.