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SGI students learn psychology through theater with ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

Dear-Evan-Hansen

Photo by Ely Schosek Students in the psychology and theater classes at Springville Griffith-Institute work together on a project related to what they learned about the musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

By Ely Schosek
Student Reporter

SGI High School offers a large variety of electives, especially for juniors and seniors, and one of the more unique ones is psychology. The week before winter break, the classes took a pause from the usual to work on a project with the theatre class.

With the classes combined, the students were walked through the musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” This musical touches on themes including social media, mental health, depression, anxiety, suicide, social isolationism, bullying and so much more. These topics may be hard to talk about for some people which made it a very openly emotional environment.

Both teachers Ms. Flint and Mrs. Noeson had made a point in telling their classes that, “it’s okay to not be okay.”

The musical “Dear Evan Hansen” follows a high school student named Evan Hansen and his struggle with social anxiety when a student at his school commits suicide.

The psychology students were able to relate these themes to the material they had learned in class the previous week and the theatre students were able to see the musical from a more theatrical perspective.

“Ms. Flint’s psychology class joined Mrs. Noeson’s theatre class for the week to discuss the story and messages behind the famous Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, looking at both the psychological sides of the characters and theatrical sides of the play,” Ty Dash noted.

“The combined teachings of Ms. Flint and Mrs. Noeson made a wonderful week of learning in a new way due to their creativity and different perspectives of the play,” he added.

“My psychology class had used what we had learned in class to figure out the emotions of the characters from the body language they used,” Alex Simmons said.

Numerous students called the experience “moving” for their own reasons.

“I felt like I was required to make a difference in my community and talk to people I usually don’t talk to,” Garon Holland said.

“It displays that ‘you are not alone’ and that ‘you will be found,’” Alex noted. “Every person is important and don’t deserve to ‘disappear.’”

Jesse Fisher called it a “good and emotional experience” because of how relatable it was as a high school student.

“It was an interesting and educational experience because of the ways in which the topics were explored through the characters’ lines, and it conveyed positive messages to the audience,” Erin Hill said.

When asked what their favorite part of the whole thing was, many of the students mentioned the music. Jesse said it was because “they were creative and had a message in each of them,” while Alex said it was because “each piece had a deep meaning and really spoke to me.”

Others like Ty mentioned that they enjoyed “seeing the play in many different perspectives,” and Garon noted: “I liked the group bonding not only between our groups we worked on our project with but also the bonding within the class.”

At the conclusion of going through the musical, the students were told to create something that related to the musical. They could work in groups or alone and it could be anything they wanted. Students were given one class period to get it all done with the next day being for presentations. The limited guidelines lead to some very creative projects.
Erin illustrated a poem that her friend had written that conveyed some of Evan’s feelings.

“For my project, my group and I talked about our insecurities, which is something Evan can relate to, and had one of our friends who’s an artist draw a picture to represent that insecurity,” Alex said.

One of the larger groups wanted to create something that Ms. Flint would be able to hang up in her room and keep for a long time. Ty, Jesse and Garon were all a part of this group. After much discussion, the group including myself and a few others decided to create a very big poster with song titles, character names, themes and messages from the musical.

We also included the words “Dear Evan Hansen” written in large letters in the middle and colored with the musical’s central colors. The other words were written at various angles and various sizes all over the paper.

This project was a new and exciting opportunity for both the psychology students and the theatre students that allowed them to learn about the themes in the musical, “Dear Evan Hansen” and to see how some of the more negative aspects can affect one’s life.

The whole experience allowed the students to go outside their comfort zone in a safe environment. Many students were able to relate to some of what Evan Hansen went through.

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