ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JORDAN KRAUSE
For the past 17 years, the organization called Kansas Kids/Leaders of the Pack has been making teenagers feel better about themselves and the world they live in.
This year, two Hillsboro High School students, Adrien Bebermeyer and Casey Reece, are helping to continue that tradition.
The pair, along with 33 other high school students from throughout Kansas, will tour during the 2000-01 school year, performing 40 concerts in 12 states, some as far away as California and New York.
The performance-written by program director Lola Wade-deals with issues that many teenagers, face, including peer pressure, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, problems within the family, abuse, sex, self-esteem and dating.
The cast also performs songs from Christian recording artists Avalon and Point of Grace.
After each performance, members of the cast relate their own experiences to the audience, a strategy that is intended to further bridge the gap between artist and audience.
Kansas Kids, sponsored by the school organization Future Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), holds annual tryouts at 18 schools with FCCLA chapters.
Once students are selected, they have the opportunity to stay in Kansas Kids until they graduate.
Every year, each participant has to find sponsoring businesses or patrons who will help raise the $1,000 travel fee. The fee helps cover the cost of busing the students cross country as well as providing food, lodging and other necessities.
This opportunity arose for Reece, a junior, and Bebermeyer, a sophomore, after Wade saw Reece’s performance of a humorous solo at the state forensics meet last spring.
Wade then contacted HHS forensics coach Terry Bebermeyer, who happens to be Adrien’s father, to find out if Reece and other HHS students would audition.
Reece and Adrien Bebermeyer were the ones selected, and both say they intend to stay in the program until they graduate.
The troupe had their first and only performance a few weeks ago at the Expocentre in Topeka. That will change when the troupe leaves in September for a rigorous tour that will end in December.
Reece, who sees a career in dramatic acting, portrays the bully in Kansas Kids.
“I want (the audience) to realize the problems some kids go through …and also maybe for some kids to realize they’re not alone.”
Bebermeyer hasn’t mapped her future yet, but sees value in this endeavor.
“I think each person will get something different out of it,” she said. “Going into high school, kids are more apt to listen if it’s other kids talking. I think we need to reinforce the idea that no situation is a dead end and they can always get help.”