South St. Paul Rallies to Save Theater Director's Job Amidst Budget Cuts

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South St. Paul Rallies to Save Theater Director's Job Amidst Budget Cuts

Last week, members of the South St. Paul community rallied together to save the job of school theater director Eric Holsen.

According to Twin Cities Pioneer Press, 22 cars full of students, parents, and alumni of the SSP school district paraded by Holsen's house, holding signs that read "Save SSP Theatre" and "Save Holsen." The supporters also drove past the homes of the seven South St. Paul school board members.

The board members said they also received more than 300 emails and 30 phone calls over four days

All of this was done to help save Holsen's job, which was in danger of being cut due to a $4.1 million spending cut implemented by the school in next year's budget.

And it worked. The board voted unanimously the keep Holsen's position.

"A lot of people said a lot of very nice things about me, and I certainly hope that I'm living up to all of it," Holsen said. "But I really focus on the position. It's a unique position among school districts, nowadays. But South St. Paul is a unique district, and I think this model for how to run our theater program fits this school and this community."

Under Holsen's guidance, the district puts on six shows per year, including a summer community musical, and a show that includes elementary students as well as high school students. Each year, around 200 students are involved in one or more of the productions.

"I get to work with these kids starting as young as third grade, and I work with them through their senior year and see them grow and change," Holsen said. "They know me. They trust me."

Holsen's job also includes behind-the-scenes work including managing the auditorium for groups that use the space, as well as setting up and operating equipment.

"We thought, 'We're really unhappy with this decision and we're going to make sure people are at least aware of the impact of the decision they're making,'" said John Raasch, the parent of one theater student. "We weren't sure how much change we could invoke in four days, but we had to try."

Read more on Twin Cities Pioneer Press.


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