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Current CCPS eighth graders can apply to the new theatre pathway housed at McDonough

Note: The deadline for current eighth graders to apply to the theatre pathway has been extended to March 1, 2024. For a link to the application, go to

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is launching a theatre pathway for students who will enter ninth grade in the fall.

The pathway will be held at Maurice J. McDonough High School, which also houses the dance pathway and the Curriculum for Agriculture Science (CASE) program. Current eighth grade students interested in the theatre pathway will be able to apply from Dec. 6 to 22 at McDonough’s website. Students accepted into the program will attend McDonough with transportation provided. CCPS eighth graders who have previously submitted an application for CTE programs and want to apply for the theatre pathway, must fill out a new application to be considered for the theatre program. 

The theatre pathway is not a career and technical (CTE) program, rather it is an arts pathway meant to enhance a student’s years in high school with specific classes focused on the arts. A student in the theatre or dance pathway experiences a traditional high school schedule and extracurricular opportunities including the option to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes and join school clubs and organizations.  

A student in the theatre pathway will follow a traditional academic schedule that allows for classes centering on different aspects of theatre. Students in the program are not expected to go into theatre or performing arts as a profession following high school, Tim Bodamer, CCPS instructional specialist for fine and performing arts. The pathway is meant to enhance skills of students interested in theatre arts.

Among the areas of study in the theatre pathway are acting, musical theatre and technical theatre. Students in the program will study with theatre professionals and experts who work on stage or behind the scenes on productions. CCPS staff is exploring options for upperclassmen in the program to earn college credit, according to Bodamer. Students will also attend workshops and clinics taught by theatre professionals.

Theatre and related arts can benefit a student’s academic performance while building creativity and an appreciation of culture. “Theatre helps students gain confidence by learning how to recognize their own emotions and feelings and by learning how to communicate effectively with others,” Jana Heyl, McDonough drama teacher and chair of the school’s related arts department, said. “It also teaches empathy by letting students explore other people's worlds, cultures and experiences.”

Leading up to the application deadline, CCPS staff will hold an information night 6:30 p.m., Dec. 12, at McDonough at 7165 Marshall Corner Road in Pomfret.

Following the application deadline on Dec. 22, pathway staff will begin scheduling auditions or technical interviews for Saturday, Jan. 20. Students will receive requirements for acting or musical theatre auditions, and those interviewing with a portfolio or essay for technical theatre.

Skills learned in theatre programs can benefit a student in other aspects of their life. “Theatre is the most collaborative of all art forms,” Heyl said. “It is not only acting, singing and dancing. It includes art through publicity, paint and scenic design. Math through design and set construction. Science through lights, sound and building. History through research. English through creating the playbills and business through advertising and ticket sales.”

For more information and a link to the application, visit the theatre pathway website at

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).