LETTER: Student production shines light on issue students face

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, March 24, 2022

When I received the copy of the March 19th Dowagiac Daily News, the first article I read was the story by Ryan Yuenger concerning the Dowagiac High School Musical “Ranked,” which was being presented that weekend in the Dowagiac Middle School Auditorium.

The story concerned a timely topic involving the “above average” students, being superior to the “below average” students. It was timely considering the recent “Hollywood scandal” concerning wealthy individuals, monetarily bribing officials to get their offspring into prestigious colleges such as USC.  The play revolves around “money,” the ranking on the status of the grade point chart and how it affects the relationships between the students themselves as well as their parents. While the subject is timely, let me say it was one of finest, well cast and outstanding theatrical productions I have ever seen by either students or even paid professionals.

Congratulations to Tammy Mammel and Hunter Schuur, who staged this great production, as well as the many students who participated. The six lead characters were all just outstanding, showing a great deal of talent as well as poise. In addition to the message that you can buy success by cheating to get into prestigious college, it also highlights the futility of the ideas that everyone needs a four-year college education in order to be “successful” in life. There are numerous individuals today who are saddled with high student debt, that will take years to pay off, believing this was the best path.

Almost 40 years ago I joined Ned Sutherland, who was then director of Vo-Tech at the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, serving on the advisory committee. This is now called “Career Tech,” but the idea is the same. Then as now, it was obvious that there are literally a vast multitude of good quality jobs in the mechanical and building trades paying in the range of high five figures and some over $100,000, going unfilled. The lack of trained people to fill these positions, which some in the production called “below average,” is now becoming very apparent. Thankfully we now have good career tech courses available locally, both in the Dowagiac school system as well as our outstanding Southwestern Michigan College.

The ideas presented in the production also highlight the current problems with communication between the students when a personal crisis occurs and is not addressed by either the one having the problem or their friend who does not ask. This is pretty heavy stuff that this great group of kids addressed. Our congratulations to all who participated and those who directed this tremendous production.

Dick & Sandie Judd