I would like to acknowledge one of Red Deer’s most valuable human resources.
His name is Robert Ford and he teaches at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School.
Recently I had the pleasure of watching his latest middle school production of Oklahoma!, which was performed and crewed by an enthusiastic and talented group of students in Grades 6 to 9.
Often you will see this calibre of performance in high school, but it is a rare thing to see a production come together in a group so young.
This achievement is due to Mr. Ford, Ford or Fordo, as he is known to his students.
Rob Ford has not only taught but mentored literally hundreds of children through the drama program at both St. Thomas and St. Francis Middle Schools.
For five months out of the year, Mr. Ford and his students, who have already busy lives, devote their after-school, weekend and noon hour time to putting on challenging productions like Annie, Godspell, Seussical, Aladdin, Into the Woods, Aida and The Princess Bride.
Students learn everything from set design to makeup, to stage management, to lighting to acting.
Mr. Ford’s students have gone on to both high school drama, and the university level in fine arts programs, and Rob brings back his former students to work on the middle school productions to give them further experience.
Rob likes to say “fine arts make fine schools” and that is proven every year when the productions hit the stage at the Memorial Centre.
I have been blessed to have three children work their way up through his productions from small chorus parts to major roles, and the self-confidence they have and will have for the rest of their lives is due in large part to Mr. Ford.
I have seen the shyest students blossom to full singing roles because Mr. Ford believed in their abilities and knew they could do it.
Thank you, Rob, for giving your time, energy and talents to the children of Red Deer.
We are all better for it.
I hope every student in Red Deer has a Mr. Ford downstage centre.