Students, depending on age, undergo training based on syllabus

Twins D. Ritheev and D. Rithwin were very reticent children. They were also shy.

“They would not even talk to us,” says their father S. Dhanapalan. This was the condition of these children around two years ago.

Today, though, they are very outspoken and sociable. “They interact well with my wife, I and our relatives. They have gained the confidence to go to the nearest grocer all by themselves,” says the proud father.

Transformation

The transformation in the twins happened at a hall in their school, Chandrakanthi Public School, over a period of 24 months.

For an hour every week, the twins along with many others in their school underwent training in speech and drama, conducted by Helen O' Grady, a drama academy.

The students undergo training in speech, creative moment, dance drama, structure improvisation, dialogue development and mini scripts, says Vidya Raman, proprietor,

Appletree International, the franchise that conducts the course in schools and colleges in Coimbatore on behalf of Helen O' Grady. Through trainers, students, depending on age, undergo training based on syllabus, which changes every term.

The complete training schedule is for 13 years.

The pre-primary covers children between three-and-a-half and five years of age, the lower primary is for children between six and eight years, the upper primary is for those between nine and 12, the upper primary-advanced is for those between 13 and 14 and the youth theatre is for those aged between 15 and 18.

The children are taught basic techniques and taken through various stages, says Meghna Darshak, a trainer. “There is no right or wrong in the class; children are encouraged to express themselves freely, and there is no expectation to reach any level,” she says. “Such freedom has helped the children come out of their shells.”

She says sometimes students are so creative that they even take the trainers by surprise.

“Once I asked students to react to holding an ice ball that fell into their hands from the sky. Many reacted in their own way. One particular boy stood still. I asked him the reason and he responded saying that he froze. His response took me by surprise,” she says.

Ms. Darshak says in the last two years at the school she has seen children change for the better. And one such change is that the students don't absent themselves on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when the drama class happens, says Karuna Rajagopal, principal, Chandrakanthi Public School.

“The children have also improved. They are a lot more disciplined. Their self-esteem has improved. They participate with enthusiasm in classrooms. And, their academic performance has also improved.”

Diploma

At the end of every academic year the students are given achievement diplomas and at the end of the fourth year they get Helen O' Grady diploma in speech and drama, says Ms. Raman.

The drama academy, through the franchisee, has been involved with half-a-dozen schools, and PSGR Krishnammal College for Women.

The drama class has brought the best in him, says Aadithya A. Naarayan, a Standard IV student. “I have also been able to get over my stage fear.”

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