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Senior play reunion salutes an unrivaled HHS tradition

Samantha Hess Samantha Hess

Over the years, Hendersonville High School has made a name for itself for its deeply rooted in tradition. One of the many reasons is the senior play, one of the most well-known and anticipated events of the school year.

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Every year seniors have the opportunity to come together and perform something truly incredible for their school and community. On Saturday night Hendersonville High School will put on a show that not only represents the longevity of this tradition, but also what the high school really strives to create: a community. “If These Walls Could Sing: A Senior Play Homecoming” is a reunion show of past senior play performers coming back to the stage to perform some of their greatest songs and scenes from their respective show. Alumni spanning 40 years are showing up to help add to that sense of community that Hendersonville High School is all about. The senior play brings together students in a way they would never experience otherwise, but “If These Walls Could Sing” gives students who have already had their time in the spotlight the chance to perform for one last time.

While the longevity of this tradition is important to note, the Senior Play has other aspects that keep it alive. Part of what makes the show really special is the way it sets Hendersonville apart from the other county schools. The cast is not full of trained actors, singers, and dancers, but instead consists of students who have grown up together, students who have roamed the same halls for four years together, only understanding about a handful of them. It draws students out of the familiarity of their friend groups and gives them the opportunity to interact with these people in a new, totally unconventional way. Caroline Ryan got the opportunity to perform alongside her best friend, Hunter Warwick, in their senior play “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” “It’s amazing how much it brings everyone in your class together,” Caroline says. “I became good friends with people in those few months that I had never really hung out with before during my four years as a student.”
Part of what makes the senior play reunion truly special is the opportunity for these alumni to perform with others who have experienced different levels of this tradition in the past. Shelley Briggs, who played Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” her senior play, says: “I am looking forward to performing with people who performed 10, 20, 30 years before me on the same stage. It’s just a feeling people don’t understand unless they are Bearcats.” The Senior Play pulls the small families and groups found in certain classes and brings them together to form a community that they would have never expected to be a part of before. “If These Walls Could Sing” will bring past performers back to the stage to create an entire reunion, and in doing so it creates a bond between all of those people who have been a part of the Hendersonville High School community before.
By bringing all of these people together, it gives them a shared sense of ownership over the play, and the tradition that the high school has kept for so long. All of them came together in their own graduating classes to create a memorable performance, and now they get to experience the same thing with other lead alumni from different years. Not only that, but the performers are also very closely knit with students who currently attend Hendersonville today. The sense of ownership does not end with these performers, but reaches to current Senior Play cast members and underclassmen awaiting that privilege.
“It is a such a great experience for the participants and the audience,” says Carson Calton, who will perform “All or Nuthin’” on Saturday night with Frances Zogzas. “Finally, most of us grew up watching our older siblings or neighbors in the plays and made it a goal to be in OUR play and make it a success.” Upcoming generations feel connected to this play whether they have watched it during their years at Hendersonville or had family members who were leads in their Senior Play.
Bart Salvaggio, another performer in the reunion show, has children who currently attend both the high school and the middle school. It reaches farther than just those performing in the reunion, or graduating classes performing their Senior Play. It inspires those in the community around them, whether they are juniors who will perform the next year, or middle schoolers who dream of being the lead once their Senior Play comes around.
The Senior Play at Hendersonville High School pushes students out of their comfort zone and introduces them to new experiences that they would not have had otherwise. Building on top of that, “If These Walls Could Sing” gives this wide-spanning group of alumni performers the opportunity to relive that experience and meet new groups of diverse people who can share their experiences together. And while the Senior Play inspires new waves of students to put their best effort into their respective play, the reunion gives them something to hope for — the hope that perhaps one day they may have their moment on the stage performing with multiple generations of Bearcats.

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Samantha Hess is a junior at Hendersonville High School. Tickets for If These Walls Could Sing, which are $5, are available at the main office of Hendersonville High School (828-697-4802). Seating is limited. Proceeds will fund scholarships for HHS students.