Submitted by Haley Phelps.
On Friday, December 21, 2018 students at the Haddam – Killingworth High School put on their 30th annual Holiday Show Telethon, led by teacher and director Chuck Lewis.
Every year students pick a charity to be the shows beneficiary, and this year they chose “After the Storm”. The nonprofit organization was founded by breast cancer survivor and H-K grad Christine Willet whose goal is to help heal cancer survivors emotionally, physically, and spiritually believing anyone living with cancer is a survivor. Their mission is to assist them in coping with their treatment so they can focus on life and living. (More information about their organization can be found at https://www.afterthestorminc.org).
Students are particularly passionate about this year’s cause given that three women within the High School are dealing with breast cancer. One survivor from H-K said that “After the Storm” proved to be a significant part of her recovery, furthering the importance of this cause.
The Holiday Show is a highly anticipated event as it is almost entirely student-run. Students prepare for months during class, lunch, and after school, making films, practicing performances, decorating the studio, and preparing for interviews. Student directors plan all the jobs that will need to be done and hold auditions for certain roles.
The event has grown in size since the telethon first started 30 years ago. This year there was a larger turnout than in previous years for student performances and interviewed guests.
The students created a minute-by-minute run sheet, however not everything went as planned and they had to adapt to the changes and students were exposed to real world situations that professionals deal with. Damaris Williams, an H-K junior who has participated in the Holiday Show for two years, said “As technical director for two of five shifts, I found that even though I myself am not director, a lot of thought is needed. Whether it’s an abrupt camera movement or the director is busy, it is important to make quick decisions on my own.”
One of the guests commented on how special the students are and how professional the show was even amongst what Lewis likes to call “controlled chaos.”
The students truly embraced the purpose of the show as they took time to get to know the cancer survivors personally, not just on camera but behind the scenes – visiting them at their homes and talking to them and listening to their stories.
Williams believes the Holiday show is truly a wonderful event that brings out the joyous spirit of the holidays and helps unite the community. At the end of the show there was an emotional tribute to Lewis for his 20th Holiday Show. All of his students got up on the stage and passed around the microphone taking turns saying how he has positively impacted and changed their lives, and how much they will miss him. When he came on to accept a card, the stage was flooded with past HKTV alumni students who came to thank him. Many of the students were heard to say that the love and the community this show fosters is why it is so embedded in the identity of HKTV. It serves as a reminder of what the holidays are about, the spirit of giving, love, and family.
Donations are being accepted until January 1, 2018 by phone at 860-554-5490, or through PayPal at the website http://holidayshow.rsd17.org. Donations can also be sent through mail by downloading a pledge form off of the website. To see all of the great moments from throughout the show watch Comcast Channel 18/ Frontier Channel 6090 or on the website at 9:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. until January 1st for encore presentations