EAST STROUDSBURG — Drama students at East Stroudsburg High School South performed a series of emotional, passionate monologues for their peers this past week, tackling issues such as rape, depression and addiction.
The monologues — collectively presented as "Why Do You Care!?!?" — were written by the students, for the students, to provide more relatable commentary than the adults in their lives might be able to do.
"Why do you care? Better yet, why should I?" asked America Ramos, speaking on depression.
"You know, every night, I lie awake, thinking about where I went wrong. At what point did I lose all interest in living?"
Ramos and her classmates didn’t shy away from illustrating the difficult realities teens sometimes face.
"I said no. I said it louder. Did you not hear me?" said Genevieve Quinones in her monologue about rape, sexual harassment and assault.
Students portrayed both a bullied student and a bully.
Teyonnah Henderson spoke about the fear and reluctance students can feel about going to an adult for help when getting bullied. If a student has lost their friends, has parents who don’t believe them and can’t go to teachers for fear of the bully’s retaliation, what are they to do?
Even if it’s difficult, a bullied student should talk to someone, Henderson said before the performance. And they should know that getting bullied isn’t a reflection of who they are, and it "doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong."
Meanwhile, the bully’s behavior might be a reflection of the way they are treated at home.
"What you don’t understand is that they hurt me. Who, you ask? My parents. Not physically, but mentally," said Oshun Seerattan, delivering a monologue from the point of view of a bully whose parents treat her like a "mistake" or "joke."
One topic — the way students can feel so stratified by taking Advanced Placement, honors, or other levels of classes — surprised some of the teachers who watched.
"Who are you to tell someone that their schedule is ‘light work’? And who are you to degrade other students with snide remarks about how difficult your schedule is?" asked Emma Christmann.
"Your AP physics grade will not define your potential as a human being," she said.
That separation and competition is the very sort of thing that might prevent a student from taking a drama class like this one offered by Cindy Ippolito, noted Michael Healey, community outreach liaison and administrative intern.
But while drama class can’t boost a grade point average the way an A in a weighted AP class does, it offers a chance for introspection: "The measure of a great piece of art is when it invites us to look inside ourselves," Healey said.
After the monologues, the students highlighted a resource board with contact information and advice available on sticky notes and small cards.
Text "MHA" to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line, for example. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.