top of page

One Era Ends, Another Begins...

by Bernie DeLeo

Six years after I arrived here at Marshall High School in the fall of 2018, I am leaving. And while I am very proud of the exciting work we all did together and the relationships made, teaching high school theatre is intensely demanding. An average week is 60 hours between teaching a full-time course load and trying to run an afterschool theatre program; rehearsals and show weeks balloon up to 70-80 hour weeks including evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and holiday breaks - and I just don't have the energy anymore. But I take with me so many career highlights. In December 2018, we produced the DC premiere of the musical Be More Chill BEFORE it went to Broadway the following spring! And when the pandemic shut us down, we produced FOUR online shows of wildly differing styles truly exploring how to make theatre on the fly without an actual theatre: Called Out, a completely improvised online show when we were all trapped at home; Machinal, a radio play of a 1920s masterpiece, Edit Profile, an original devised piece on Zoom, and Working, a filmed production of the vignette musical which was a monumental undertaking and achievement. The following year, back in school, we produced the first of three original one-act festivals comprised of new student plays (directed & produced by students too), a longtime dream of mine. Later that spring, we brought all of our feeder elementary schools grades K-3 to see the musical A Year With Frog & Toad, their first exposure to theatre AND their first field trip ever (due to COVID). And if that weren't enough, I closed out my final year with a phenomenal production of The Laramie Project, standing up for our LGBTQ community and coinciding with the 25 anniversary of Matthew Shepard's murder; It Doesn't End In Nebraska, junior Han Nguyen's remarkable autobiographical play about surviving suicide which smoked the District & Regional rounds of the VHSL tournaments and took us all the way to the state finals; and ending the year with Legally Blonde, our most successful musical in 6 years with one last sold-out house. This is on top of incredible work I saw in all my classes, especially IB Theatre, and so many other fantastic plays on our stage. I leave with so many rich memories of working with such incredibly talented students, dedicated colleagues and devoted parents. It's been quite the ride - but I'm ready to move on to new adventures teaching theatre to 3rd through 5th graders at Bailey's Upper Elementary School.

I'm thrilled to hand over the reins to the ridiculously talented Ahmad Maaty. Ahmad graduated from Marshall in 2005 and was devoted to theatre here back then. Ahmad has taught theatre all over the DMV including at George Mason University, and has choreographed at countless schools. Thankfully he has been here at Marshall working with our kids for the past two years and with many of them since Kilmer Middle School. He is warm and empathetic, yet also disciplined and inspiring. He will be a fantastic replacement, and I look forward to seeing what he does with our talented kids in the years to come.

Finally, I thank so many people who made my time here so rewarding: Jeff Litz & Danielle Schoolcraft, administrators supreme; Joe Swarm, our legendary DSA, Kelli Pierson & Tiffany Powell, my amazing chorus partners on so many musicals; Olivia Tate, my right hand; Paul Vesilind, Cat Bond, Matt Kulikosky and Tanya Ratner, exceptional arts colleagues all; Phil Charlwood & Barb Cressman, two parent volunteers who've been with me my entire theatre-teaching career; an amazingly supportive faculty; countless superlative parent volunteers and so many wonderfully talented students. I will cherish my time at Marshall and it was a pleasure watching so many kids grow. Breaks legs on all your future endeavors, Statesmen!


bottom of page