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Partners in Education: The Laramie Project

Kasey Hott

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Partners in Education: The Laramie Project

CREATED Apr. 26, 2012

Presented by Shopko Foundation:

APPLETON - Over the weekend, a group of students at Appleton East High School took on a tough play called The Laramie Project. The show serves to raise awareness about hate crimes that happen all across the country.

The Laramie Project chronicles the story of a gay university student named Matthew Shepard, who was beaten to death in 1998 because of his sexual orientation.

"We're trying to put forth a message of anti-hate and what a hate crime really is, and I think it's going to be good for the community to see what really goes on and to know that there's awareness of hate crimes in the valley," said Kelsie Bolstad, who acted in the play.

While the show has been challenging for the high school students, they say it leaves behind a lasting impression.

"Whether it's a different viewpoint, a different perspective.. I think that everyone has something in this show that they can relate to," said actor Troy Wildenberg.

In one particularly moving scene, Wildenberg played the father of Matthew Shepard giving an emotional speech in court.

"It's been such a growing experience as an actor, as a person.. it's just been great. Truly great," he said.

Students say the message of the show is simple.

"To just love everybody, and to know it's doesn't matter who you are, what you are, or what you do in the world.. everyone can love you for you," said Bolstad.

The show's director says it's been a joy to watch her students learn and grow.

"When they can bring tears into their eyes successfully each night of the run and during rehearsal, I know that they have learned their lessons well. I'm very proud," said director Debra Weiher-Traas.