When I came to Caledonia about a year and half ago, I heard a lot about its athletic programs. People would talk to me about the football empire and the legacy of great soccer and golf. I also witnessed some of the most dominating volleyball I’d ever seen – and that’s saying a lot when you’re married to a sports editor. My husband and I enjoyed comparing notes on what makes Caledonia athletes better than their counterparts and how the coaching staffs manage to pull out the very best from the different talent levels they encounter each year.
Along with sentiments of pride about sports I heard quiet rumblings that went something like, “Sports is not all Caledonia is good at.”
It’s true. Caledonia Schools boast several winning programs, such as FFA and Knowledge Bowl, which, like sports, are featured and supported in the Argus with stories and photographs.
Another area of great pride comes from the performing arts. From Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre to high school choral concerts, from the pep band at a basketball game to the 4-H talent show, Caledonia has many opportunities for young performers, and there is a hunger to offer more opportunities.
Just recently, a group of community-minded individuals set up a local talent show for kids that will take place at the high school on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m.
In addition, elementary teacher Tory-Kale Schulz approached middle school/high school principal Paul DeMorett about starting a One Act Play program at the high school. DeMorett also serves as the district’s activities director. The idea was passed onto the School Board, who wanted more information on the activity. Schulz presented his findings Oct. 21 like a true performer – with pizzazz and energy.
One Act Play has been a Minnesota State High School League sanctioned event since 1949 but, as far as anyone can remember, Caledonia has never assembled a team.
Schulz said he participated in One Act Play in high school along with athletics and student council. He said he was encouraged to be a “triple A” student who could excel at academics, athletics and the arts. He said he wants to see this program brought to Caledonia to create enthusiasm for the fine arts, to foster the growth of lifelong skills and to create “a fine arts winning culture” in a school that has never had One Act Play team.
Twenty students in grades seven through 12 can participate in One Act Play. Caledonia would fall into Section 1, which currently includes 26 teams. There are only three competitions held for One Act Play, including subsections at Rushford-Peterson, sections at St. Mary’s University and state at St. Catherine University. The groups typically host local performances as well, in part, to fundraise for the organization and to showcase their talents. Practices begin in November and end in February.
You could feel Schulz’s excitement and desire to offer Caledonia kids one more awesome opportunity.
“You have somebody who’s going to be passionate about doing this. There’s not a doubt in my mind that if given the opportunity to support something like this, the community would do so. What I need from you is your official support and your financial support,” Schulz said.
Ah yes, that budget issue keeps surfacing like a bad penny, doesn’t it?
With a detailed budget in hand, Schulz said the school needs $3,370 to get the program off the ground.
“I know the board well enough to think you would be supportive of something like this; however, there’s a couple things we have to be cognizant of – namely, money,” Superintendent Ben Barton said.
Look, Ben isn’t the bad guy here. He had to say this. It’s what we pay him to do – to keep the district’s budget intact and in the black. I think everyone in the room that night wanted to stand up and offer a round of applause – and a yes vote – on behalf of our students, the performing arts and this opportunity. But someone has to figure out where the $3,370 is going to come from.
Ultimately, the School Board voted in favor of starting a One Act Play program. It’s definitely a risk, and that’s where we come in, the community. We must give whomever is named director our support. I know, we’re nickle and dimed to death with requests for funds and/or donations for community programming. But I don’t want to see that light of enthusiasm for the performing arts dimmed by a lack of dollars. I know you don’t either. I know you, too, believe that it’s not true that Caledonia only cares about sports.
Perhaps Board Member Kelley McGraw said it best when he said, “During the two-plus years I’ve been on the School Board, we’ve harped on trying to do something with the arts. For once, instead of talking and mulling and waiting for seven meetings, I’m game to go today.”
I could tell by the look on the superintendent’s face that grave concern still exists on where the $3,370 will come from, but I’m also confident Caledonia will rise to the occasion and make sure One Act Play is supported because, after all, the show must go on.
You can contact
Emily Bialkowski at