A nearly forgotten slice of American history found a place on the stage several years ago with the musical production and film, “Newsies.”

The backdrop of the story is the 1899 strike in New York led by newsboys and newsgirls who were upset with how they were being paid by newspaper moguls William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. After much negotiation and coverage by competing newspapers, the young people who hawked newspapers for a living won a consolation and resumed their work.

West Point students, from elementary to high school, are bringing this production back to life April 25-27, with directors Jimmy and Kim Harbison, who are West Point teachers.

At least 60 students are involved in the preparation, from building sets to performing on stage. For anyone who enjoys theater, this performance should be great entertainment.

The Harbisions report that students are excited about the potential of growing the theater in West Point and are aiming at two productions next year. One hurdle they must face, depending on the amount of performers and the size of the sets, West Point does not have an auditorium stage to suit their needs. It’s simply not larger enough.

With the cooperation of Fairview High School, the West Point production will travel east for its performances.

A lot of attention has been shown on the condition and needs of schools with the passage of a half-cent sales tax. County schools are expected to gain about $4 million annually from the tax over the next 15 years. A lot of parents and educators are excited about the prospect of what this money can mean for their schools.

The list of needs will be long, with any long-outdated facilities surely at the top of any spending plan. But this is also an opportunity to invest in the arts, including the necessary stages, so students can expand their desire to bring more theater productions to their communities.

Research into what motivates students points in many directions, but the arts are a rewarding gateway to capturing the attention and creativity of young people. Sports are attractive to many students, but adding a stronger commitment to the arts from the administration and school board will enable educators to reach the needs of more students.

Plans should be unveiled soon on how the sales tax money will be used. We encourage the school board and administrators to include a healthy expansion of the arts in those plans.

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