Bear Facts

1800 hours: student receives award for dedication to theatre

Penny+Burke+jokes+around+on+stage+in+the+middle+of+a+rehearsal.+Burke+spent+muich+of+her+time+in+a+similar+situation+throughout+high+school%2C+dedicating+1800+hours+of+her+time+to+theatre.
Penny Burke jokes around on stage in the middle of a rehearsal. Burke spent muich of her time in a similar situation throughout high school, dedicating 1800 hours of her time to theatre.

Penny Burke jokes around on stage in the middle of a rehearsal. Burke spent muich of her time in a similar situation throughout high school, dedicating 1800 hours of her time to theatre.

Penny Burke jokes around on stage in the middle of a rehearsal. Burke spent muich of her time in a similar situation throughout high school, dedicating 1800 hours of her time to theatre.

Ria Talukder, Co-Spotlight Editor

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Of  the 35,000 hours a student spends being a high schooler, 5040 of them are spent at school and the rest are for students to spend as they wish. One student dedicated 1800 hours of that free time in the performing arts center, day and night working behind the scenes and on the stage.

Penelope Burke, senior, is a valuable member of LZ Theatre, according to fellow club mate Collin Rasbid, senior. Burke serves as the President of the technical theatre club, has participated in all 12 productions since her freshman year, and has held a variety of managerial positions during her time with the club. What sets her apart, however, is an award she recently received, distinguishing her as an International Thespian, something only she achieved out of a club with over 50 members, 

“It’s such an awesome thing for Penny to accomplish,” Rasbid said. “She has literally invested all her free time into this passion of hers, so much to the point where we all joke that Penny has basically sold her soul to theatre.”

Burke and Rasbid have both participated in tech since middle school and emphasize just how much of a time commitment the club is. Many hours are spent after school working on sets and rehearsals for a production, and one must participate in concerts for the school and be involved in all productions to reach the amount of points necessary to become international, Burke said.

At LZ, we are part of the International Thespian Society which is an international theatre group where we get inducted, and we earn one point for every 10 hours we give to the program,” Burke said. “There are different levels of thespian a person can achieve, and international thespian is  the highest, with 180 points, meaning 1800 hours. It’s really hard to accomplish.”

Rasbid attributes her success to her work ethic, but her fellow thespians are not the only ones who have taken note of her hard work. Jackie Burke, Penny’s mom, witnesses her daughter working every day and according to her, it is no surprise that Penny received this award.

“When each show would begin she would look at me and say, ‘I don’t know how all of this is going to come together!’ And every single time, it did,” Burke’s mother said. “This translates nicely into Penny as a person. She’s constantly juggling all these different pieces of her life and sometimes feels out of control, but I witness her pushing through and problem solving in every situation. She’s the only one that’s surprised when she’s successful. As a mother, I know it’s because of who she is.”

Feeling out of control, however, was not an uncommon feeling for Burke, she said. Burke says she had spells of doubting her efforts and sometimes wondered if the time commitment was worth it.

“When you spend nearly all of your time involved in one time-consuming activity, you are forced to be friends with the people there. About ninety-five percent of my closest friends in high school have been people I met through theatre,” Burke said. “And of course, in high school, conflicts happen and friends come and go. These conflicts made me question my commitment to theatre, and every once in awhile I started to feel burned out. The driving force for me during those times was always the award of international. When I sat down and thought about it, I realized petty things shouldn’t come in between my passion.”

Following through with her passions finally paid off for Burke at the Drama Club Banquet on May 10, as she received her award in front of the entire club.

“When I received the award at the banquet, I felt completely overwhelmed,” Burke said. “In my head, all of the time, effort, joy, and stress that I experienced over the past four years was reduced to one moment with the award. All of my friends and fellow club members were really supportive and proud of my achievement, and that made me very emotional.”

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About the Writer
Ria Talukder, Spotlight Co-Editor

The most important thing you need to know about Ria is that Shonali is her real name.  This will be her second year on staff as the co-editor of Bear Facts’ Magazine’s spotlight section. In the previous year, Ria wrote for LZ life and contributed to the online and print publications for Bear Facts. With the very little time she doesn’t spend dedicated to Bear Facts, Ria spends on being an officer for the school’s Technical Theater Club, an editor for Yearbook, a member of NHS and the speech team, a FAME leader, and frequenting rides on the Metra to Wicker Park. You can spot her around the school probably in the Performing Arts Center- she’ll be the one wearing the paint splattered Doc Martens. Interests and favorites include Bollywood films, her beloved paint splattered Doc Martens, Hot Cheetos, and Harry Styles. She plans on double majoring in business and journalism at NYU and hopes to one day be an individual that Harry Styles would be proud of.

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