Graham High School theater teacher Sally Maxey is all about drama. Maxey has been a drama teacher for 36 years in Cleburne and Aubrey and served as superintendent in Rio Vista. She came to GHS to teach theater last year. This year, she hopes to take theater students to a whole new level by implementing more dramatic plays, up-beat musicals and in-depth one-act plays. Maxey implemented some of these changes last year, and students have noticed the difference between her and a previous theater teacher. The evidence is made clear in the number of students who have registered for theater classes for the 2014-15 school year. "I have almost double the class load from last year, and I'm going to incorporate a lot of new stuff," Maxey said. "I think they saw success from students last year. The (number of) All American Girl Pageant (participants) doubled." Maxey said the help of her newly-appointed GHS Theater and Thespian officers will help ease the load of work on her part, allowing her to concentrate more on student progress in acting. Additionally, Maxey said the officers will also learn more about theater production. Officers will emcee the AAG pageant and assist Maxey in organizing students for plays and productions. Emma Stroup, theater president for the 2014-15 school year, has been involved in theater since she was little. She participated in Cody's Kids, a theater camp that has been offered in Young County for years, church plays and community activities.

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She joined GHS theater her freshman year. Since Maxey's induction as theater teacher, Stroup said has noticed Maxey wants her student to compete more. "Competitions put our names out there and opens up opportunities for college," Stroup said, adding that she loved to perform in front of others. "There's something about being on stage - it's comfortable." Theatre vice president Chelsea Creswell said she didn't have an interest in drama, but since she needed a fine art credit, she joined theater last year. "I sat in the corner and said nothing, and Miss Maxey would tell me to say or do something," she said. "She got me involved in the AAG Pageant, then one act plays. I started to enjoy it a lot more. I love it, actually. It's great." Nesbitt and Smith also joined theater to get their fine art credits, and have both grown a love for theater. "I liked dressing up in costumes, and I get really competitive," theatre vice president Dylan Nesbitt said. "I wanted to drop out freshman year, but, I had so much fun in something I thought I'd never have fun in." Smith recalled doing warm-ups on stage per Maxey's request. "I was scared at first, and she asked me to join her one-act class," theatre reporter Finis Smith said. "I loved it. I loved getting into character, and I like getting to be out on stage. It's cool." All four students hope to one day either find a career in theater or at least use what they've learned to help them in a future career. Maxey has high hopes for all of her theater students, as some of her former students have gone on after high school to study theater at The Julliard School, as well as universities in New York, Arkansas, California and, of course, Texas. "I had one previous student to just did an audition in New York two weeks ago," Maxey said. "I have numerous students who are now drama teachers. I think I do well in guiding them in a future of theater." But for the immediate future, Maxey's students are looking forward to a new year in theater. "I like her, we actually saw theater the way is was meant to be," Stroup said. "We are bonding better and encourage other people to do better." Happy to teach in Graham, Maxey is exactly where she wants to be right now. "Graham is perfect. The school is the most disciplined, and students' expectations are high," she said.