It isn’t the end that students across Kansas City and around the nation envisioned for their senior years, but they are a resilient, optimistic and forward-looking group. That’s why we are proud to give a virtual standing ovation to some very special Starlight seniors. We start with a senior who has honed her talents on the stage at Ruskin High School.
NIKÉLA REONI REED
Senior, Ruskin High School
Member, Starlight Blue Star Awards Student Council
Favorite high school experience/memory:
Participating in the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament in Dallas in 2019.
I went on my first airplane ride alongside my dedicated and wonderful coach/theatre director, Ms. Michale. At the beginning of the 2018-19 forensics season, I promised myself to work hard and tell a story that meant a lot to me – and I did just that. I’ve used forensics as a platform to speak about topics that influence and affect me as an African-American woman in America.
What you’ll miss most with school being closed:
Performing with my theatre department.
We are like a tight-knit family and, unfortunately, we are not able to perform our Spring musical, The Lion King Jr., or participate in our theatre department traditions and celebrations.
Best experience/memory with Starlight:
Their amazing musical productions, such as Hairspray and The Bodyguard, and, most definitely, participating in the Blue Star Student Council.
Advice you’d give to Ruskin freshmen to help them navigate high school:
Just know that it is up to you to make the most of your experiences in both high school and in life.
The opportunities are there for you. You just have to be willing to work hard and find your passion. Why spend your life doing something that doesn’t make you smile?
How you’re making the most of the final months of your now-virtual senior year:
Staying connected with my classmates and teachers through social media and virtual learning, taking time to read plays, paint and create poetry that is meaningful to me.
Plans for your summer:
Hopefully participate in another Speech and Debate tournament.
I also am going to spend time with my friends and family, visit museums, travel and run. I am a proud theatre-nerd and will definitely see shows at the Unicorn, take workshop classes and work backstage for the Heartland Men’s Chorus.
Plans for your immediate future:
Major in Theatre Performance at a four-year university starting in the fall of 2020.
Hopes/dreams for your future:
A career as an actress as well as a role in bringing theatre arts opportunities to low-socioeconomic areas.
I want to further break the cycles of institutionalized and internalized oppression in marginalized groups.
Favorite musical and why:
The Color Purple.
It is a beautiful story of overcoming adversity by learning to find love in different phases of life and, most importantly, within yourself.
Favorite song/artist and why:
A Drop of Water by Keiko Matsui and Carl Anderson.
It is a very moving and overall emotion-filled song in tribute to Ronald McNair, an astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.
Words you live by:
“Act well your part; there all the honor lies.” – Alexander Pope
Theatre is a safe place to grow and learn from human experiences. You can truly live in the moment and let your outside pressure and problems drift away.
A performance can never be replicated. There is always a new feeling to feel, a new reaction from an audience, a new “A-HA!” moment when I, as a performer, have a deeper understanding of the story. Performing gives me the chance to walk in the shoes of a stranger and build relationships with others while having the freedom to create and express.