MILLBURN—High school students with limited access to the performing arts were the beneficiaries of a $5,000 grant by The Provident Bank Foundation to the Paper Mill Playhouse.
The venerable Millburn theater, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, has since 1989 been running the Adopt-a-School project for ninth through 12th graders. Students embark on a four-year program created by Paper Mill in which they observe a main stage production, participate in workshops at the theater, produce their own show, and finally, as seniors, write critiques of a main stage show.
For Adopt-a-School coordinator Michael Mooney, contributions like those from The Provident Bank Foundation are invaluable in maintaining the high standards Paper Mill upholds for its classes and student-led productions.
“We’re very interested in bringing these kinds of experiences to these kids – whether it’s economically disadvantaged districts or schools that have arts programming but truly need a kick start,” Mooney said. “We bring in professional artists, provide transportation for the students – the costs are very high.”
But well worth it, according to one school administrator whose students took part. “This program has had the most incredible effect on the kids who’ve participated,” said Paula Ohaus, arts coordinator at Hoboken High School. Hoboken has been designated an underperforming district eligible for state Abbott funding, but Ohaus points out, nearly one-third of the high school’s 500 students have joined its drama program – mostly because of the Paper Mill Playhouse.
“We were thrilled about this grant,” she added. “Some kids have even gone on to study theater in college, thanks to the Adopt-a-School program.”
Exactly the kind of impact The Provident Bank Foundation was seeking when selecting Paper Mill as a grant recipient. “We’re thrilled, as well, that the next generation of leaders is following their dreams into higher education,” said Kendall Warsaw, executive director of the foundation.
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