The Bull's Eye

Drama teacher leaves to focus on theater group

Amelie Lee, Asst. Feature Editor

Directing productions ranging from “Into the Woods” to “In the Heights,” Theater Program Director Beatrice Casagran committed herself to leading the Diamond Bar High School theater program for the past four and a half years. Recently, Casagran decided to take the leap from working at Diamond Bar High School to focusing on her own volunteer theater company, Ophelia’s Jump Productions.

During her time on the staff, Casagran worked to improve students capabilities through new programs, field trips to theaters nearby and musical and theater instruction. By re-establishing the Thespian Honor Program and instituting the Theater Performing Arts Academy program at DBHS, Casagran provided more opportunities to theater students on campus. She also took her students to acting and theater competitions to further improve their skills.

“Ms. Casagran really raised the bar for the musicals and plays at Diamond Bar. Because of her expectations, they felt really professional,” theatre student senior Amelia Anijielo said.

Not only did Casagran implement new programs on campus, but she also allowed for students across the district to express themselves in starting the district-wide Story Writing Contest and the annual DBHS Children’s Play Festival.

“I am proud of these accomplishments and I hope these programs will serve as foundations for further growth in the future,” Casagran said via email.

After taking leave during first semester, Casagran decided to permanently leave her position due to her back problems and to contribute more to Ophelia’s Jump Productions. Working to make theater accessible to students who don’t have theater in their schools, the company makes its home in Upland.

Long term substitute and one-time DBHS theater student Jared Kaitz is taking Casagran’s place as Theater Program Director this semester. Kaitz has performed in multiple theatre productions throughout his life.  

“During the past semester, we spent a lot of time learning under Mr. Kaitz and we’re used to his teaching style, so it was an easy transition to working with him this semester,” Anijielo said.

Kaitz hopes to further improve the program and organize the department for more efficiency. In preparation for this semester’s musical “The Little Mermaid,” drama has been collaborating with other members of the performing arts program to establish a more well-rounded performance.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve lost that collaboration between the performing arts groups on campus. Since students have to choose between electives, drama has been dropping in numbers, and I think getting students from throughout the school can help draw people to theater,” Kaitz said.

Theater students stated that over the past few months, they have already seen a change in the efficiency and organization of the program, relying more on strict schedules and less on spontaneity.

“I think us seniors are really lucky to have Mr. Kaitz this year, especially since we’ve never had the opportunities to work under another director. With him holding the reins, I’m really excited for this next semester,” senior Mary Thomas said.

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