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Lights, Camera, Donation! 'All In' Program Helps Fund LHS Drama

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January 17, 2019
Lompoc High Theater Program "I'm All In" Donation
Selena Diaz, CoastHills corporate employee and Lompoc High School alumna, made her stage debut as Aladdin’s magic carpet in the Lompoc High School Drama Club’s spring musical her freshman year. 

Typically pretty reserved, acting was never something she’d ever dreamed of doing, but she jumped out of comfort zone and gave it a shot thanks to the encouragement of a teacher. 

For Selena, the school’s theater symbolized her finest memories over the next four years. 

It could be grueling at times, with rehearsals stretching well into the night after a long day of classes, but it was fun and inspiring to be involved with a diverse group of students coming together to bringing a story to life. 

For most people looking back, it’s the extracurricular activities — whether it’s drama, music, art, or sports — that leave a lasting impact. But these activities wouldn’t exist without a driving force behind them — a passionate mentor willing to go above and beyond to share these opportunities with their students.
      
Sarah Barthel, Drama teacher, Director, and Drama Club Advisor at Lompoc High School, was hired at a time when the drama program had been shuttered. The previous teacher retired, and there was no one to step into the role. 

But, with her experience and passion for the stage, she took on the challenge to rebuild the program from the ground up.

Funding is always the biggest hurdle since extracurricular activities are famously first on the budget chopping block. Sarah is allocated less than $300 a year for the drama program, which doesn’t go very far when scripts run about $10 per person and musical royalties are over $100 for each performance — not to mention the funds needed to buy or rent costumes, makeup, decorations, or set pieces. 

Luckily for the Lompoc Drama Club, they’ve built a reputation for putting on a great season. They host a play in the fall, a holiday show, a musical in the spring, and a student-led production each year. Thanks to support from the community, including a lot from former students like Selena, they can count on ticket sales to fund productions instead of having to resort to fundraisers. What’s more, the student’s talents go beyond just acting — they expertly source costumes, sometimes even sewing stuff themselves, and materials to build and decorate the sets on a budget — so they can stretch their dollars pretty far. 

However, Sarah also hasto account for major upgrades. With the help of her students over the years, she’s put a lot of work into the old building to make it more inviting and functional — fresh paint, new curtains, extending the stage, fixing the dressing rooms, and maintaining equipment used in performances — but there’s always another project around the corner.

Selena has always thought of paying it forward to the next generation, and got her chance because she participates in the CoastHills employee-led charitable giving program and was recently picked to designate an organization to receive a $1,000 donation. 

It just so happened that she was picked when the current group of Lompoc High School Drama students was preparing to debut its spring program — the 16th Annual Comedy Tonight Showcase, a variety show featuring sketches and musical parodies written, directed, and acted out entirely by the students. 

Inspired by the impact that the program had on her when she was in school, Selena knew that her donation would make a big difference to the current — and next — generations of the Lompoc High School Drama Club. 
 
Selena’s All In donation couldn’t have come at a better time. Sarah has been hoping to upgrade the lighting fixtures in the theater with new LED models that use less power. The current fixtures are old and desperately need to be replaced — they have had to carefully plan their lighting so they don’t blow a fuse. Unfortunately, the modern fixtures run about $800 apiece, so the project is a major undertaking. But with a little help from Selena, they are closer to achieving their goal.   
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