A No Bullying, Zero Tolerance Zone at Upper Darby Summer Stage

 

The cast gets psyched before going on stage to perform "Camp Rock"

“Harry, hopefully you realize the values you instill at Upper Darby Summer Stage – acceptance, nurturing, excellence, and self-value – have positively affected thousands of young lives and have made our community a better place. Thank you for continuing to offer this amazing program and for “filling the world with love” in so many ways…”

Excerpt from a letter from a proud mom to Harry Dietzler

The topic of bullying has become prevalent in the headlines. The sad truth is that teens can be very mean to one another.

At Upper Darby Summer Stage bullying is completely unacceptable. Instead, the core values of acceptance, self-value, hard work, and discipline are instilled upon each and every participant.

There are over 100 staff members this summer. During staff orientation and within the staff guide the tone is set to continually follow the mission of UD Summer Stage: “To encourage young people to develop the magic of their talents, personality and energy and to share that magic with our audiences through outstanding theatrical performances for the entire family.”

Founder and Executive Director, Harry Dietzler adds, “The staff of Summer Stage must challenge the more outgoing and motivated members while being supportive of those who may be shy or less confident. All policies of the program have these goals in mind. We are unique in that we teach all the kids who come to us, regardless of their ability or talent.”

Recently a mother of a Summer Stage participant wrote to Harry Dietzler. Her words express just how special the program is for those involved:

I wanted you to be aware you are changing lives for the better in so many ways with your Summer Stage program.

Dear Harry,
I recently attended the Senior Project presentation by the daughter of my very good friend. Her presentation focused on how music enhances the experience of interpreting lyrics versus the experience of simply reading the written word.  While I sat and watched her present her project, I thought what a blessing it was that she was preparing for her graduation. She had been very close to not making that milestone.
 
Her years in high school were very challenging. A lovely and beautiful girl, full of potential, she suffered mild brain trauma during her freshman year. Without going into too much detail, the following years consisted of various degrees of bullying and depression, and subsequently she turned to drugs and alcohol for self medication.
 Her supportive parents never lost faith in her and provided her with all the tools she needed to get healthy and to build her self esteem.
 
My friend knew my daughters were involved in the Summer Stage program and approached me about getting her daughter involved. During the summer of her senior year, the girl willingly signed up even though she didn’t know anyone in the program (except for my girls who ended up not being in her show) and she was going into the program later than most of the others who had been involved for several summers.
When she arrived the first day, the girl knew she had to audition and not only that, she discovered she had to sing, by herself,  in front of a complete room of strangers. Can I tell you she was literally shaking with fear and was as white as a ghost when she arrived? I truly didn’t think she would have the courage to follow through.
 
Not only did she follow through with the audition, but she felt great it! Everyone encouraged her and made her feel welcomed. Her story with Summer Stage could have ended right then and there on a very positive note, because with the support of the others at Summer Stage she found her confidence and persevered. But the story gets better because she had the opportunity to spend four wonderful weeks preparing for the show, learning from your wonderful staff, and meeting new people who accepted her for who she is.
 
As she was preparing for her senior project, her mother told me her daughter said to her, “Mom, I’m feeling very confident about preparing for this project. I found my voice at Summer Stage.”

Harry, this is just one story among hundreds. Hopefully you realize the values you instill at Upper Darby Summer Stage – acceptance, nurturing, excellence, and self-value – have positively affected thousands of young lives and have made our community a better place. Thank you for continuing to offer this amazing program and for “filling the world with love” in so many ways.

 A very proud Summer Stage mom.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story! Do you have a Summer Stage story you want to share? Send it to Lauren.Stevenson@verizon.net and we’ll post it on our Blog!

4 Responses to “A No Bullying, Zero Tolerance Zone at Upper Darby Summer Stage”

  1. Terez Giuliana

    A wonderful story, an inspiring letter, but by no means an unusual occurrence at Summer Stage. This program somehow draws the nicest, friendliest, most hard-working kids around!

    Reply
  2. Joanna Everett

    What a beautiful story–you made me cry–and you made me proud that this is where my son has chosen to spend his summer–Thanks you Harry & thank you Summer Stage!

    Reply
  3. Amy Trafficante

    It is a wonderful program. I personally see how accepting the kids are due to the fact that my son has a learning disability and no one makes fun of him because he can’t do something. This is a wonderful program and i am thankful that i found it. Thank you Harry and the summer stage staff for a terrific job done each summer.

    Reply
  4. Ed

    Going back 25 years, Summer Stage instilled me with self confidence, approval of my peers and loads of encouragement from Harry, my directors, mentors and friends. I was a socially awkward kid who was always sick. I was allowed to blossom in the Summer Stage environment when I was stunted in every other one… school, home, you name it. I wouldn’t be the same without the 10 or so years I spent singing “To Fill the World with Love”, which Harry and his staff continues to do after 35+ years!

    Reply

Leave a Reply