WACIT qualifies for all-state speech competition


Emma Elceser, Social Media Manager

Although there has been an improv program at Pleasant Valley for many years, it wasn’t until the 2015-2016 school year when Francis Dunbar took over that it starting drawing in such a big crowd. Since Dunbar has expanded the program, the improv nights have grown greatly in popularity. Each time an improv night is held, students, parents and community members pack the black box as full as it can possibly get, typically leaving people standing to watch the show.

As the popularity of the improv teams grew Dunbar had the idea to open the door and allow more people to participate in improv. “I started the JV improv team,” Dunbar said, “so that we would always have younger people learning the art of improv.”

All of Dunbar’s coaching has allowed these improv teams to really improve in their performances. This year, PV improv team WACIT really showed the value of having such a great improv coach. The members of WACIT – Olivia Peters, Molly Dippel, Odin McDonald and Kaylynne Nowak — performed at districts and state, receiving a division one rating at both. This is the highest rating a team can earn at speech competitions. From their outstanding performances they also qualified to compete at the all-state speech competition in the group improv category.

Peters auditioned for WACIT at the end of her sophomore year when they knew some spots would be opening up from the graduating seniors. “I didn’t consider myself the kind of person who would be good at improv,” Peters said, “but I tried out, made the team and grew to love it.”

When asked what makes WACIT unique from the other improv teams at the high school Dunbar said it is the fact that the team is primarily female. Strong women in comedy are rare to come across, so this team made up of three females and just one male is truly exceptional.

Improv is a very different form of theater that requires a tremendous amount of talent, which is why the audience loves it so much – they all know they could never do it. “I love how each and every time, it’s new, as opposed to rehearsing the same thing all the time,” states McDonald, “Each practice we have consists of random situations we have to act out. It really keeps you on your toes and makes the performance that much more exciting!”