Choral Director Dan Schade was already thinking about next year a week before the opening night of the 2018 Carlisle High School musical.
“It’s an overlapping process,” he said. “It never ends.”
Even as he worked with the students to perfect their delivery of “Big Fish,” Schade was mindful of the reality that half his cast members are seniors who will graduate in June.
The veteran musical director will look closely at the pool of talent available among current freshmen, sophomores and juniors as he develops a short list of options for 2019.
His choice last March of “Big Fish” was an easy decision to make just weeks after Carlisle High School produced the musical “Cinderella.”
Schade knew he had the right blend of students to pull off the complexities of the heavy vocals, elaborate dance numbers and large ensembles “Big Fish” demanded.
“This show is super heavy in a lot of ways,” he said. “There’s a lot of raw emotional stuff where students really need to act. There’s just a lot going on in this show.”
As rehearsals intensify this week, Schade will keep in mind the potential he sees in the underclassmen. He will look for the stand-outs who could do the solo work, take direction well and emerge as leaders and role models as they move through the grade levels.
He will have to weigh what he sees in the rising talent with what shows are available and what each show demands of its cast and crew. There’s money on the line. To produce a musical, the Carlisle Area School District must buy the rights to perform it on stage each night.
“You have to pay for all your materials and any supplemental materials you want,” Schade said. “If you perform it again, you have to buy the rights all over again. If a show is currently on Broadway, they may block you out. Or if it is touring, they may deny it.”
Schade also has to sell the idea to students. Just because there’s a pool of talent doesn’t mean the talent will make itself available when auditions are held in October.
“I run my ideas by them,” Schade said. “I don’t want to run a show they have no interest in.”
One technique he uses is to play the soundtrack during a study hall to gauge the student response and to ask for their input. His research also involves listening to soundtracks, scouting for reviews on the internet and watching videos on how other schools tackled set design, costumes and other production aspects.
Each year Carlisle school district receives an influx of students who are tied to the Army War College. The college hosts a yearlong residential program for senior military and civilian leaders. Their children are enrolled in public and private schools.
Though they are only here for the year, the children of Army War College students often get involved in extracurricular activities like the school musical. But who is a wait-and-see game that becomes clear with auditions.
Once the cast is chosen, the costume department sizes up the talent and begins outfitting the players. There were three main individuals involved in the production of the 200 or so costumes featured in “Big Fish,” Schade said. They did the work for free, saving the district thousands of dollars in labor costs.
One female character of “Big Fish” has to cycle her way through 10 costumes over the course of the musical. Most of the cast have three to four costumes.
The decision was made early on to build one main stationary set with smaller sets that are rolled in to complement what was going on, Schade said.
Rehearsals that can start in November continue through the night before the first performance. Outside of school, cast and crew members are out and about in the community putting up publicity posters and soliciting businesses to sponsor ads in the program book.
“We have students helping in all different kinds of capacity,” Schade said. This year, the cast numbers about 40 to 45 students with an additional six to eight students in the pit orchestra, 10 to 15 in the stage crew and four in sound and lighting.
It was hard at first for Cody Breon to adjust to a culture on “island time.”
The West Pennsboro Township youth went on a mission trip to the Bahamas the summer of 2016 before his junior year at Big Spring High School.
“They were so laid back,” Breon recalled of the islanders. “They were not on a strict schedule like us Americans.” Being half an hour late for a meeting was typical.
The challenge for Breon was how to relax enough to pace his way through the task of replacing a caved-in roof for a single mother of three children.
She could have lost custody were it not for the help of the team from the Carlisle United Methodist Church. Their work began with removing the water-logged timbers damaged in the storm.
Within a week, Breon and the other volunteers had built a new roof and covered it over in shingles. It wasn’t all work. In his spare time, he played soccer with local children.
“The culture was a lot different,” said Breon, now 17 and a senior at Big Spring. He said it was interesting to see how kids in a different country play a universal sport.
Since middle school, Breon has been involved in a number of charitable projects aimed at improving people’s lives. His first of four mission trips was in New Jersey where he helped to replace dry wall in a home that had been swamped by Hurricane Sandy.
He also made two trips to Georgia. One involved helping a church host a vacation Bible school in a park in a Hispanic neighborhood. The other had Breon help volunteers build a swing set and picnic tables for a different neighborhood park.
Each time, Breon had the opportunity to play soccer, his main sport since elementary school. Last fall, the Bulldogs went 9-7 for the season and missed out qualifying for the district playoffs by one game.
“It was a fun ride,” Breon said about his final year on the varsity soccer team. “We got the results that we wanted and we scored more goals than we’ve ever had.”
He played defense his last season as a left back. Prior to that, Breon was a forward or a wing. “I did well wherever I went,” he said. The plan is to play either club or intermural soccer in college.
To earn his Eagle Scout, Breon organized the effort by Troop 174 of Newville to build two wooden benches at a scenic overlook on the Locust Point Trail of the King’s Gap Environmental Education Center.
In school, Breon participates in the TEMPUS Club which is short for Time Eventually Makes People Understand Society. One goal of this group is to reach out and help local children and veterans.
Career in neuroscience
Breon plans to study neuroscience in college in the hope of working either as a medical professional or in a lab setting in research and development.
Breon first became interested in the brain and nervous system after completing a fifth-grade research paper on Phineas Gage, a railroad construction foreman who survived an improbable accident.
A premature explosion at a construction site turned a tamping iron into a missile that shot through Gage’s head. “He recovered from that injury, but his personality changed,” Breon said of the foreman.
In March 2017, Breon participated in a job shadow with Dr. Mohammad K. Ismail, a Carlisle neurologist. “I followed him around for a day and watched what he did,” Breon said. “He was always on his feet … always busy with either paperwork or a patient. It was really neat to see him constantly on the go … constantly working.”
Part of what Breon observed involved Ismail compiling data to prepare a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Breon looks forward to the spring when he can participate on the varsity track and field team. He first got involved as a sprinter to keep fit for soccer. Now his main focus is on the 800-meter run.
His goal this year is to beat his personal best times.
The first medical marijuana dispensary in Cumberland County is officially open for business nearly two years after Gov. Tom Wolf signed the program into law.
Organic Remedies, located in the 4400 block of Valley Road in Hampden Township, had a waiting room full of patients Friday afternoon. It is one of two dispensary locations approved in Cumberland County.
KW Ventures Holdings LLC, operating under the name Firefly Dispensaries, was issued a permit to operate a dispensary in the 800 block of Harrisburg Pike in North Middleton Township. An opening date for that location has not been announced yet.
Locally, dispensary permits have been approved for locations in Dauphin, Franklin and Adams counties, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Patients seeking medical marijuana must first be seen by an approved doctor and receive authorization that they are suffering from one of 17 qualifying medical conditions. There are currently about 50 doctors in the area who have been approved by the state, including nearly a dozen in Cumberland County.
Loose leaf marijuana, commonly used for smoking, is banned under Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law. Medical marijuana may only be prescribed in pill, oil, topical, tincture (liquid extract) and liquid form or any form “medically appropriate for use in a vaporizer or nebulizer” other than dry leaf.
Marijuana, including medical marijuana, remains illegal under federal law, meaning it dispensaries cannot be reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid. Pennsylvania’s law also does not require private insurers to cover medical marijuana. This can lead to many transactions being done in cash.
Only patients with a valid medical marijuana identification card are allowed to enter the dispensary. A large painted stop sign next to a locked interior door alerts anyone enter of the rules.
A family member of one of the patients inside the dispensary Friday afternoon approached the door to speak to the patient before heading back to her car to wait. Along with an employee working at the front door screening entrants, Pennsylvania law requires dispensaries to use commercial-grade surveillance equipment.
The surveillance equipment must cover all entrances and exits as well as any rooms with exterior windows or skylights, according to the Department of Health.
Dispensaries are also to be held to strict inventory and reporting standards, according to the Department of Health.
The warnings around Nikolas Cruz seemed to flash like neon signs: expelled from school, fighting with classmates, a fascination with weapons and hurting animals, disturbing images and comments posted to social media, previous mental health treatment.
In Florida, that wasn’t enough for relatives, authorities or his schools to request a judicial order barring him from possessing guns.
Only five states have laws enabling family members, guardians or police to ask judges to temporarily strip gun rights from people who show warning signs of violence. Supporters of these measures, deemed “red flag laws” or gun-violence restraining orders, say they can save lives by stopping some shootings and suicides.
Florida, where Cruz is accused of using an AR-15 assault weapon to kill 17 people at his former high school, lacks such a law. He was able to legally own the semi-automatic rifle, even though his mother, classmates and teachers had at times described him as dangerous and threatening, and despite repeated police visits to his home.
Red flag legislation has been introduced by Democratic state lawmakers, but it hasn’t been heard during this year’s session, and its fate is uncertain in a state Legislature controlled by Republicans who generally favor expanding gun rights.
After Wednesday’s shooting, Republican Gov. Rick Scott said he will work to make sure people with mental illnesses don’t have access to guns, but offered no specifics. Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio — facing withering criticism over his acceptance of $3.3 million in career campaign cash donated through the National Rifle Association — is going a step further now.
Rubio said on a Sunday morning show that state legislators should “absolutely” consider enacting a law enabling family members or law enforcement officials to ask a court to remove guns from a person who poses a danger. Rubio, who once served as Florida’s House speaker, told Miami CBS affiliate WFOR that it’s an “example of a state law” that could have helped prevent the Florida shooting.
In 2014, California became the first state to let family members ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat. Its legislature took action after a mentally ill man, Elliot Rodger, killed six students and wounded 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself.
California’s law also empowers police to petition for the protective orders, which can require authorities to remove firearms for up to one year. Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington also have some version of a red flag law.
More than a dozen others, including Hawaii, New Jersey and Missouri, are considering bills to enable family members or police to petition the courts to take weapons away from people showing signs of mental distress or violence.
The Florida shooting has revived debate about whether teachers and school administrators should have that authority as well, given that people at Cruz’s high school witnessed much of his erratic behavior.
California lawmakers voted to expand their law in 2016 so that high school and college personnel, co-workers and mental health professionals can seek the restraining orders, but Gov. Jerry Brown called the effort premature and vetoed it.
State Assemblyman Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat, said he plans to reintroduce the bill.
“We need to make sure that when people see signs, they have every ability to do something about getting guns out of the hands of mentally ill and dangerous people,” Ting told The Associated Press.
Circumstances similar to those in Florida played out seven years ago in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. Jared Loughner had become increasingly disruptive and erratic at his community college in the months leading up to the shooting, frightening students and causing teachers to request campus police officers be on hand during his classes. Eventually, the school threatened him with suspension.
Soon after, he went to a gun store and legally bought the weapon he used to attack Giffords as she met with constituents, shooting her in the head and killing six people.
Without red flag laws, the main recourse available to family members is to have a troubled loved one committed to a psychiatric institution. Federal law permanently bans anyone who has been involuntary committed from owning guns, but such actions are more difficult to carry out than red flag laws, which are intended to be quick and temporary and have a lower standard of proof.
Without such a commitment, formal adjudication of serious mental illness or a felony conviction, many people can pass background checks and possess guns they already own.
The red flag laws act as a sort of timeout, so someone in psychological distress can get counseling while their fitness to possess a gun is evaluated, said Laura Cutilletta, legal director of the Giffords Law Center.
“It’s a way to allow for temporary removal of firearms in a situation just like this: where somebody has made threats, where they have been expelled from school because of those threats, they’re in counseling, and parents or the school or whoever it is understands that this person poses a threat,” she said.
Many gun-rights activists oppose the laws. They say they can be used to unfairly take away rights from people who have not been convicted of crimes, nor professionally evaluated for mental illness.
The NRA’s lobbying arm has said such laws enable courts to remove Second Amendment rights “based on third-party allegations and evidentiary standards” that are lower than what’s required in criminal proceedings.
Connecticut led the way with a 1999 law, passed after an employee shot and killed four executives at state Lottery headquarters. It allows police to remove guns based on probable cause that a person poses a “risk of imminent personal injury.”
In a study published last year, researchers at Duke, Yale, Connecticut and Virginia estimated that dozens of suicides have been prevented by the law, roughly one for every 10 gun seizures carried out. They said such laws “could significantly mitigate the risk” posed by the small number of legal gun owners who might suddenly pose a significant danger.