Pioneer on CBS News: High school production targets bullying in schools

This is a production that has been in the works for a few years and is finally making its debut. Here is a news story that CBS affiliate – KUTV news aired featuring the production and the impact PHS hopes to make in the community through the performing arts.

(KUTV) He danced his way to some of the top musicals across the country and directed sold-out shows here in Utah.

Now Derryl Yeager is behind a new production that targets school bullying, called “Wide Awake.”

The show was put on by students at Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts in American Fork.

“It’s powerful. It’s really powerful,” said Yeager.

Yeager spent 25 years in the professional dance and Broadway show arena before he started the Odyssey Dance Theater in 1994.

It has produced hit shows like “Thriller,” “Redux Nutcracker,” and “Shut Up and Dance.”

Four years ago, Yeager helped open up a performing arts high school and has wanted to do a show about bullying.

“I titled the show ‘Wide Awake’ because that was my intent — was just, open your eyes. Open your eyes to what’s around you,” said Yeager.

But the word bully is never mentioned once during the 40-minute musical production.

“As soon as you say the word ‘bully,’ they are going to tune out,” said Yeager.

“I think it makes it more personal instead of just, bullying is bad,” said Jessie Martindale, one of the student actors in the show.

The stories told in “Wide Awake” are real, many of them coming from the actors’ own experiences.

“We’ve written our own monologues. We’ve given a lot of input on how we want to portray this — how we want to stage it,” Martindale said.

“Going about it this way is, in my opinion, more impactful,” said student actor Tal Stengel.

But the show isn’t all doom and gloom. Its final message is about believing in yourself.

“In a very imperfect world, whoever you are is perfect,” said Stengel.

“I think that is the overall message of the entire piece is, it’s survivable. And you shouldn’t even consider suicide or any of those things,” Yeager said.

Yeager is now in the process of working with schools and districts, hoping to take this production across the state.

For more about Derryl Yeager and Odyssey Dance Theater, visit its website.

Morgen Call, Student of the Month

Congratulations to Dance Academy member – Morgen Call – our student of the month. Morgen is both a talented performer and exceptional student. Learn a little more about Morgen below.

Morgen’s Interest:
Dancing, discovering new talents about myself and traveling.

Morgen’s Hobbies:
Dancing, making new friends, and cooking.

Morgen’s favorite aspect(s) about PHS?
“I get to do what I love everyday and constantly pushed to improve in my craft.”

Ruby’s Aspirations:
To become a professional dancer and travel the world – be part of a professional company.

Congratulations to Morgen for being our student of the month.

Mike Mitchell, PHS Teacher of the Month

Mr. Mike Mitchell has been nominated as our teacher of the month. Mr. Mitchell teaches Honors Language Arts, Philosophy, and Literature. Learn more about Mr. Mitchell below.

Mr. Mitchell enjoys philosophy, the mountains, baseball, and anything written by C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton.

In his spare time Mr. Mitchell enjoys hiking, running, and anything that involves a mountain.

Favorite aspect(s) about PHS?
I love the focus on the arts and the way the small class sizes allow everyone to know each other.

To continue teaching and learning.

Congratulations to Mr. Mitchell for being our teacher of the month and for all of his hard work to inspire the students at PHS.

Free workshop: music, dance and theatre

Join Pioneer High School’s worldclass directors and faculty in theatre, dance and music. Workshop participants will learn material from Odyssey Dance Theatre’s hit Halloween production “Thriller,” theatre participants learning material from industry professional Shawnda Moss in Theatre/Acting, and Caleb Chapman where he’ll focus on what makes for a dynamic stage performance.

For ages: 12 to 18
Price: free
Check-in: 9:00 am
Workshop time: Starts promptly at 9:30 AM to 12 noon.
Location: 555 East Main Street, American Fork
RSVP: please email your name and which session you’d like to attend.

Email to:

Workshop sessions and time are listed below:

Soloing Like a Pro
Taught by Caleb Chapman, Artistic Director

Performing music is most often a team sport, but there are times when every musician will be asked to shine on their own. Stepping into the spotlight on the stage involves so much more than just playing or singing the right notes. Learn how to own the stage from the first note of your feature and connect with your audience.

Making an Entrance
Taught by Shawnda Moss, Artistic Director

Every actor knows you should be in character when you enter the stage – audience members make a snap judgement the moment they see you on stage – but often it’s a few lines into the scene or several steps into the light before you feel like you are your character on stage. Learn how to get into character BEFORE you enter the stage or immediately after introducing your acting work. You can create the entrance that your character has been destined to make by exploring Uta Hagen’s “Three Entrances” exercise. Your entrance – and character – will definitely make an impression!

Thriller from Odyssey
Taught by: Deryll Yeager and Odyssey Dance company

During this workshop students will learn choreography and performance technique as they work from Odyssey’s hit dance production “Thriller.”

February 17th – Bring a Friend to School Day

Join us on Wednesday February 17, 2016 for our “Bring a Friend Day.” Students will have the opportunity to bring a guest to experience performing arts classes at join in on workshops led by our world-class faculty.

Dance Workshop by Derryl Yeager
Derryl Yeager serves as the Dance Academy Artistic Director. Derryl also has 25 years as a professional singer/dancer/actor. Film credits include A More Perfect Union, She’s Having a Baby, Staying Alive, When the Heat Hits the Street, How Rare a Possession, The Lamb of God, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and Limit Up. Derryl’s also performed on Broadway in A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls, Cats, Shenandoah, Oklahoma!, and Cinderella. His talent doesn’t stop there as he has multiple choreography credits on television shows, films, music videos, ballet, and Utah’s Halloween favorite — Thriller. Derryl founded the Odyssey Dance Theatre in 1994 and hasn’t looked back since. Under Derryl’s artistic direction, Odyssey Dance Theatre has consistently excelled and received numerous awards, including Best of State in Dance 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and of all Arts and Entertainment 2007, Best Choreographer 2009 Odyssey Founder and Artistic Director, Best Individual Dancer 2010 Odyssey Associate Artistic Director/Principal Dancer, and Best Youth Dance Group 2011 Odyssey’s Junior Company Odyssey 2

Music Workshop by Caleb Chapman
Caleb Chapman serves as the Music Academy Artistic Director. Caleb began the Caleb Chapman Music program in 1999. Since then, he has already left a permanent mark on the music industry. His vision and accomplishments have marked him as a rising star, both domestically and internationally. Caleb produces and directs over 150 of Utah’s most talented young musicians in nine elite ensembles, including the award-winning Crescent Super Band. These bands can currently be heard on radio stations across the country, including Sirius XM Satellite radio. In addition to performing across the globe, his bands have been recognized time and again as some of the nation’s top entertainers. DownBeat Magazine has recognized these bands with 10 awards over the last 5 years. Caleb received the Best of State Statue Award, marking his program as the top organization in Arts and Entertainment for the state of Utah, beating out every other professional music, arts, and film organization for the honor. They have also garnered 7 Best of State Medals in the process. And his Crescent Super Band has consistently been named the top professional band in Utah in any genre. In addition to fronting the bands, Caleb is an active saxophonist. Most recently, he performed the National Anthem for the NBA at a sold-out match with the Utah Jazz and the Miami Heat, the only saxophonist ever to receive the invitation in Utah. Caleb is a featured clinician and sponsored performer for Yamaha Saxophones, Rico Reeds, JodyJazz Mouthpieces, and Planet Waves Cables.

Drama & Acting Workshop by Shawnda Moss
Shawnda Moss serves as the Drama Academy Director and received degrees in Theatre Education and Theatre for Young Audiences from BYU. She taught high school theatre for over eleven years in the public school system in Salt Lake County and Utah County. During that time she established theatre programs that became respected statewide in theatre educator’s circles. Currently Shawnda teaches directing and theatre education courses in the BYU Theatre and Media Arts Department as well as supervises theatre student teachers in local public schools. She often conducts workshops at national theatre education conferences and seminars for university education programs. She is on the Board of Directors for the Utah Theatre Association and organizes and produces its annual conference. She loves to perform and can be seen acting as well as directing on local stages in plays and musicals. She is married to Bradley Moss, another theatre instructor, and plays mom to three adorable, brilliant, blond-haired children.

The schedule for our event is as follows:

School times: Begins at 8am and
Workshop sessions: 8 am to 11:10 pm
Location: Meet at the Academic building

Note: Guest permission slips must be submitted in order to participate.

Pizza will be provided for all students and guests that participate in this “Bring a Friend” experience. We are excited to showcase our school!

November – Student of the Month

Every month we feature a student that demonstrates excellence across the categories of academics, performance, and community. Makai is a great example of each of these categories. Makai excels in her academic classes with high achievement. In performance she not only takes direction well but quickly integrates feedback resulting in noticeable growth, and in community Makai can regularly be seen encouraging her fellow academy members. Here are a few personal highlights about Makai that make her a great student:

Makai’s Interest:
She enjoys, no, loves dance, art, animals, golf, history, poetry and learning new things.

Makai’s Hobbies:
Again, she LOVES dance, acrobatics, painting and tumbling.

Makai’s favorite aspect(s) about PHS?
That she gets to develop her talents and abilities.

Makai’s aspirations:
Dance in a college program, join a professional company, and spread love through dance.

Congratulations to Makai for being our November student of the month!