The GEAR UP program in Pulaski County hosted two days of theatre productions and career exploration talks for middle schools students from Garrard, Laurel, Rockcastle and Pulaski counties this week.

The Chamber Theatre Group, a national educational theater company, gave four performances of their ENCORE production. The show features classic American literature brought to life on stage and is specifically designed around the school curriculum for middle school students. Among the plays and stories performed were Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

Students from Pulaski and Rockcastle counties also met in small groups to talk about school, college and careers with professionals from around Kentucky. The presentations included careers ranging from engineer to a thoroughbred horse farm manager.  Guest speakers included Henry Caldwell, Tino Soto-Cuevas and Djuan Trent, a United Way fundraiser and former Miss Kentucky. Ms. Trent said “I enjoyed sharing my story with the students…I majored in theatre while I was at Berea College, so I was pleased to see the production incorporated into the program as well. Any time we are able to stimulate the minds of our students, it’s a good time.”

Djuan Trent talks with students about her college and career experiences.

GEAR UP is a federally funded grant program run by Berea College. The program works with nineteen Kentucky school districts to prepare students for college and their careers. The theatre productions and career talks focused on building appreciation for the arts and connecting academic experiences to real world jobs.