I recently attended a series of one-act plays at my local high school, Irondale. The drama director announced that the school's drama budget will be cut next school year. The department will possibly have to cut back on the number of productions -- which could include eliminating the one-acts and doing musicals only every other year. I'm sure our high school is not the only one with a drama department in financial trouble.

Until I attended a high school production, I had no idea of the level of joy, talent and commitment that the students put into every production -- a dedication and emotion that projects to the audience in an amazing way. I watched my daughter come alive once she became involved in drama. Her first foray into the world of theater was through the one-act plays. I imagine a lot of kids begin this way, as every attempt is made to find a role for everyone who tries out. Students write some of the one-acts and direct all except for the competition one-act.

Eliminating this creative outlet would be a shame. Restricting students to only two musicals during their four years of high school would also be unfortunate. For one thing, the musicals attract big audiences, therefore bringing in revenue. But they also showcase special talents and are just plain fun.

The kids in drama are a close-knit bunch and very supportive of each other. They are also very appreciative of their audiences and any support that is given to them. That is why we continue to attend the shows, though our daughter has graduated. Many alumni come back to see the shows, including our daughter, and enjoy the reunions very much.

The students work very hard to stage their productions. Not only do they rehearse and perform, they also work behind the scenes, building sets, procuring and selling concessions, arranging ticket sales, and doing other technical jobs. When one play ends, auditions and rehearsals begin for the next play almost immediately.

I urge the community to support your high school's theater program. Even if you do not have children performing, or attending the school, you will find an evening or afternoon at a high school production to be a very enjoyable venture, at a reasonable price besides. The students involved need to have their creativity nurtured. The confidence that comes from performing before an audience will serve them well in their adult years.

Jackie Peterson lives in Shoreview and works as a day care provider.