A Change of Heart
Jeffrey Tadeo, Division 1, 6th grade
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It started back when my parents had been pestering me about doing a musical with my sisters ever since I had hidden an application for fifth grade Student Council Representative. It was either “a musical or public speaking classes,” as my parents said. Both options seemed to be a form of punishment, but seeing my sisters’ wide smiles every time they came home from rehearsals filled me with wonder and curiosity. As the show neared I was eager to know how it would turn out. Several boys were participating in the production, and it was then I realized that maybe I could do what they were doing. 

Naturally, due to my shyness of being alone while speaking to an audience, I chose to participate in an upcoming musical with my sisters, and before I could say no or change my mind, my parents had signed me up. I was participating in an older teen production of The Little Shop of Horrors and was cast as an ensemble role without having to audition. I was lucky they only needed extra actors to be Skid Row residents for an opening and closing number, so I would have no lines or solos. 

I was very nervous and right away I began to regret my decision of ever choosing to be in a musical, my inevitable consequence for hiding the student council application. The first rehearsal passed quickly, but the thing was, I didn’t want it to conclude. I was actually enjoying myself. This was the beginning of my change. For the next few months I looked forward to each rehearsal. And when the show weekend finally arrived, the director gave me lines and a solo! I was filled with so much enjoyment from the experience that I chose to be in more musicals. I was the lead, Danny Zuko, in Grease, and one of the lead villains, a Wickersham Brother, in Seussical the Musical Jr. 

Performing raised my confidence more and more and opened up my willingness to try new things. At the beginning of sixth grade, I surprised my parents by applying to be School President. I wrote a creative speech, memorized it, and delivered it to the entire school audience. And I was elected President! Then my school’s music teacher invited me to design a set and help direct our school’s first production, Seussical the Musical Jr. since I had experience. I also learned Latin ballroom dance and am planning to compete with my partner in our first competition. The arts have changed my life. I went from being a shy person to a growing, confident individual. Already, my life opportunities have drastically widened, allowing me to draw from all the different areas that I am passionate about and that will shape my future. 
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