Leading Stories

Friday Night at the Theater

The snow was just beginning to fly as we gathered with our leaders at Nebraska
Wesleyan University’s theater to enjoy a performance of Peter and the Starcatcher. For
some, it was the first time they would take in a live theater performance and others, a
happy opportunity to have the experience once again.

The play was fresh, creatively performed and entertaining. The actors exhibited plenty
of talent and lots of contagious enthusiasm to warm up a bitter cold night. I could easily
close here by saying that we had a great time and sharing the many good feelings
generated having spent a fun and positive evening with our young people. But our time
together was so much more.

New experiences like Friday Night at the Theater, get our students out of their comfort
zone. Trying something new; putting yourself out there, is a form of risk-taking and a
highly prized skill in the world of work. When confronted with a future challenge or as
yet unseen circumstance, I think our leaders will adapt well – remembering the Lead Up
experiences that pushed them to learn more about themselves and the world around
them.

I must admit, watching the students’ faces as the play unfolded was a “personal best”
for me. Past the anxiety of not knowing what to expect and finding their way through the
norms and etiquette of the environment, they were relaxing and simply enjoying the
experience. And you could see the proverbial wheels turning. The human brain is not
built for business as usual. Visiting new places, learning about new topics and doing
new things build fresh neural pathways that not only sharpen our intelligence, but build
our self-confidence as well. Not bad for a Friday night out.

After the show as we discussed the performance, I realized that this moment was not
unlike those they might encounter in the college classrooms they will soon inhabit. They
were learning how to formulate their impressions and ideas and express them
appropriately and in logical order to the outside world. And to listen and respect the
perspectives of their peers. As I think back on the evening now, I can see the
beginnings of future presentations explaining scientific experiments or compelling
arguments about a controversial novel…..

Our evening at the theater was college and career preparation at its best, and I am so
proud that we can provide such a well-rounded foundation for our Lead Up students.
Thank you to our higher education partner, Nebraska Wesleyan University for a great
evening and bringing our mission Ready for College, Ready for Career to life.

Julie

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