Mrs. Hardy – A Year of Learning, Passion, and Surprises

Olivia Cornell

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Oliva Cornell

Ms. Laura Hardy and one of her theater classes.

A year ago, the Highland Theatre Arts department bid farewell to their beloved director, Mr. Steven Abaroa. But, a passionate and dedicated teacher of our school, Mrs. Hardy, bravely stepped into the role. With the 21-22 school year coming to a close, I asked her to reflect on what this past year has meant to her as the new theatre arts director at Highland.

Ironically, Hardy had never considered theatre education as a career choice; she was studying for a Bachelor’s degree only in Theatre Arts. That is until her professor at Northern Arizona University, Dr. Clifford White, pitched the idea to her.

“It kinda stuck in my head. But I went about my life working professionally, being at home, and then when it came time for me to start a new career, I went into teaching.” says Hardy.

At Highland, Hardy started out teaching English, and then eventually moved into Yearbook/Journalism as well. Since her background had been in theatre, those collaborative classes really allowed for her to use her skills she had learned while she was in school.

But, when the theatre position opened up, Hardy thought, “Maybe it’s time.”

Mrs. Hardy has always had an overwhelming love for what theatre is. 

“It is a living and breathing experience. It’s an interaction with the audience, between the actors, and it’s only there for those moments… You can have recordings, but it’s really about that connection you make with people, whether it’s serious or comedic… People remember plays and moments in plays; it’s transformative for them…”

However, in her own words, this year has been a “learning experience” for Hardy, considering how vastly different the teaching style of theatre is compared to her English classes. “It’s louder, it’s vibrant, and it changes all the time… but I kind of like that.” laughs Hardy.

To Mrs. Hardy, this year wouldn’t have been what it was without her students. 

“They surprise me all the time. I don’t always see all of their rehearsal process, and sometimes they’ll come in with a scene or a monologue or a design project, and I’ll be surprised by how great or funny it is,” says Mrs. Hardy, as she reflects.

As important as it is for Mrs. Hardy’s students to pour their gifts into the theatre program, she wants them to receive something out of it. When asked what she wants her students to walk away with when they leave her class everyday, Mrs. Hardy immediately stated, “[I want them to know] they can do more than they thought they could.” Her main goal as a theatre teacher is to give her students a chance to follow what they love and dream of one day being.

The 22-23 season for Highland Theatre has recently been announced, and Mrs. Hardy cannot be more thrilled to be doing another year of what she loves. 

“Our fall play is going to be Clue, and our early spring play is going to be The Outsiders. We’re also going to be doing the Shakespeare Festival again, and a full length mainstage play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

What a year it has been for Highland’s theatre program. The successes of the fall play, Radium Girls, and the spring musical, Anastasia, were a huge blessing not only to Mrs. Hardy, but to her cast and crew as well. “I have a lot of pride in a lot of different things my kids did. It really was a fun year.”