Imagine being two weeks from opening night of your big spring musical production of “The Little Mermaid” when the entire state goes into lockdown because of the coronavirus. Andrew Gibb-Clark had spent the entire budget on the show and he knew that if his choral program was to continue, he had to have a performance in the fall. He received a list of mitigations from the Illinois Department of Public Health that had to be followed for all school activities, and brainstormed with the production team on how they could do the show. “We landed on a drive-in with students performing live inside, and the audience in their cars across the street, enjoying a drive-in movie style musical,” Gibb-Clark said.
The video feed of the students was projected on a large 11x22-foot screen in the parking lot and sound was transmitted through each car’s radio.
“The show went amazingly well and was well attended by the community,” Gibb-Clark said. “I am extremely proud of what my students were able to accomplish putting the show together in only a week!”
“The Little Mermaid” is just one example of how Gibb-Clark has impacted the choral program at Highland High School, which has grown by 50% under his leadership. In his first year, he added a show choir to Highland’s choir lineup that consisted of a capella, mixed, madrigal and chamber choirs. “The show choir started with student interest,” he said. “I told them that I would do whatever I could to get it started.” That meant meeting with other show choir directors and administrators, doing a lot of research, writing an action plan and presenting it to the school board. “The school board agreed to provide the funds to purchase the necessary equipment to start the program, which has grown every year — providing another performance opportunity for our students,” Gibb-Clark said.
In one of his “40 Under 40” nomination letters, a colleague wrote,” Mr. Gibb-Clark’s ‘the-show-must-go-on’ attitude shows his unselfish caring toward his students.”