Homeschoolers take to the stage

Just because he’s homeschooled doesn’t mean William Hagen has to miss out on acting in a high school

Just because he’s homeschooled doesn’t mean William Hagen has to miss out on acting in a high school play.

The Rexford teen will perform this weekend in “The Three Musketeers” with almost 40 other homeschoolers from Saratoga County and the rest of the region. They’re all members of the Hudson Valley Consortium, a group that allows homeschoolers to take middle- and high-school-level classes with other students.

Consortium Actors is a spinoff, and of the various clubs and activities the consortium offers outside of class it’s the most popular, students said.

While some high schools are so big that many students are left out of drama productions, the consortium’s small size allows many students to have a role. The students were rehearsing their play at Light of The World Christian Church in Colonie on Monday.

“Everybody here has such a passion for theater,” said Allee Keener, 18, of Troy.

They all have high hopes for their spring show.

“I think it’s going to be our best production yet,” said Hagen, 18.

This is the group’s third play — students put on “You Can’t Take it With You” in the fall and “The Man who Came to Dinner” last spring — and they and their directors are excited about moving away from comedy to a more dramatic performance.

“We found that we have some really talented young people,” said Andy Zawacki, co-director with Sharon Paluch.

The students speak highly of the two directors.

“They really love the kids and they love what they’re doing,” said Petra Acker, 18, of Clifton Park.

Because their classes are so small, the actors are friends outside of the productions.

“You really need to trust your fellow actors,” Hagen said. “We’re all able to trust each other because we’ve gone to school with each other.”

Late last week, the lead actor suffered a knee injury requiring surgery, so Zawacki asked a boy who had a few smaller roles to take his place.

“This young man has just stepped in and learned all the lines in one weekend,” the director said.

They’re renting out the Gowana Middle School auditorium, since most of the homeschoolers live in the Shenendehowa Central School District. They typically sell about 500 seats combined for the two shows.

Zawacki teaches history classes to the homeschool consortium, a Christian-based group that features about 15 teachers who act as independent contractors.

“Most parents at the high school level, they don’t feel very comfortable to offer their children courses,” Zawacki said. The classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at Grace Fellowship Church in Colonie.

For more information on the consortium, visit

The students appreciate the consortium as well.

“We don’t have as much peer pressure,” said Shauna Anderson, 17, of Greenville. “We can be ourselves totally. Being smart is a cool thing here.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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