A unique high school theater program is opening the door to English language learners making transitions from their native countries to the United States.
At Annandale High School, Vy Pham was a freshman who was new to the USA and to the English language. She wanted her new language to be fluent, but she knew that she stumbled. Her solution as she moved into her new life from her native Vietnam was to barely raise her voice above a whisper.
Three years later she stepped onto the state of the school auditorium, a 17 year old senior barking director’s orders, or playing the role of a crazed lunatic in a production of “Dracula”. The Annandale Theatre Without Borders Program had made a huge difference in her life.
Students receive extra English language instruction as they learn the performing arts. The program is in its 12th year at Annandale, and provides a safe space for students to learn and explore the English language.
Each year, Theatre Without Borders puts on two shows, one each semester. When Pham cam to the class as a freshman, she was intent on staying behind the scenes. But after watching her classmates, she was encouraged to try for her turn in the spotlight.
“Now look at her,” said program founder Leslie Chekin. “You can’t get her off the stage.”