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Lehigh Carbon Community College

By Jordan Beach 

For the third year in a row, the Laurel Canyon Optimist Club contributed to the tuition of high school students attending Reinhardt’s Musical Theatre Intensive.

Ed Hill and Brian Osborne.

Reinhardt University School of Performing Arts hosts a summer day camp each year to provide an opportunity for local high school students to enhance their theatre skills, including workshops in everything from singing and acting to set design and makeup.

“Our goal in the Optimist Club is to raise funds and support projects for youth throughout Cherokee County,” said Ed Hill, member of the Laurel Canyon club. “We do a lot with schools and with Goshen Valley, and three years ago we got in touch with Reinhardt and brought a couple of students to a meeting who sang for us. We started supporting them because [the Intensive] is a high school project.”

The Intensive typically runs for two weeks each summer and concludes with a performance, however, with the onset of COVID-19, the program moved to a virtual format this year. High school students will join Reinhardt’s faculty and students online for one week of training.

“It’s such a worthwhile project,” said Hill. “To see them come out and perform a complicated musical just after being at camp for two weeks is quite amazing.”

The funds provided by the Optimist Club often serve to cover the cost of tuition for students interested in attending but cannot afford the cost. Hill says contributing to students’ tuition enables them to develop skills such as self-confidence, a trait that will later apply to all areas of their lives.

“The fact that local kids can afford to participate because of gifts like this is really important to us,” said Brian Osborne, music director for musical theatre and opera and assistant director of music. “We don’t turn people away due to of the surplus of cash left over because of gifts like this and money we’ve saved in the past.”

Osborne is grateful for connections within Cherokee County, such as the Laurel Canyon Optimist Club, who support Reinhardt University and the performing arts.

“Cherokee County is integral to our life here on campus. Here at Reinhardt, they’re involved in all different aspects of what we do here, especially the performing arts. The fact that they give back to us and we’re able to provide an outlet for the community to be entertained, come see a show and have fun, that’s a great joy to me – that exchange between our communities.”