Adopt A School

Paper Mill Playhouse founded the Adopt-A-School Project in 1989. The program was designed to introduce New Jersey high school students to the performing arts, to stimulate partnerships between educators, artists, and businesses and to encourage the permanent inclusion of arts programming as an integral part of New Jersey’s educational system. In 1992, the Adopt-A-School Project was selected by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a model arts-in-education program. Students at each “adopted” school work through a four year program that includes on site participation and in school residencies with extraordinary industry professionals.

Year One – “OurStage” (Observation Phase)

“OurStage” introduces the joys of live theater from an audience perspective by treating “adopted” students as Paper Mill “subscribers” for one full season. Students attend four (4) matinee performances at Paper Mill Playhouse, experiencing a wide array of productions in varying theatrical styles. An orientation session takes place in the school prior to the first trip to Paper Mill to prepare the students. Comprehensive Audience Guides, prepared by the Paper Mill staff support each production. Pre-performance seminars focus on the process of creation.

Year Two – “SkillStage” (Participation Phase)

“SkillStage” provides a sequential experience in the arts and gives students the opportunity to put what they have observed in year one into practice. Fall ArtsFest – A full day of up to three (3) workshops led by leading teaching artists in the performing arts are arranged at Paper Mill. Spring ArtsFest – Three (3) ‘master class’ level workshops led by prominent artists in the performing arts are held at Paper Mill Playhouse.

Year Three – “YourStage” (Creation Phase)

The primary goals are to challenge imaginations and aesthetic understandings and develop decision making and collaborative skills. A student theater company is formed in each school to create an original theater work, guided by professional artists in residence. The final production is performed by the students on the Paper Mill Playhouse stage during Spring ArtsFest.

Year Four – “NextStage” (Analysis Phase)

Students return to the Paper Mill’s mainstage – this time for evening performances – and watch shows with a critical eye. Students receive tickets to evening performances for up to four (4) mainstage productions. Roundtrip coach transportation is provided. Pre-show seminars with leading theater professionals guide the students in writing their own ‘review’ or critical analysis of their artistic experiences.

“Allstage” (Theater For Everyone)

“AllStage” introduces the joys of live theater for students with developmental disabilities. Select special needs schools are “adopted” and provided with field trips to specially designed performances that accommodate the immediate needs of children with autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. In-school pre-show lessons with Paper Mill teaching artists prepare the students for their outing to the theater, and for the show they will see. Character guides and varying level of engaging activities are provided to partner schools.

For more information, contact:

Lisa Cooney
Director of Education Programs
Paper Mill Playhouse Education Department
22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ 07041

Merck Foundation is Major Sponsor of the Adopt-A-School Project.
Additional generous support is provided by PNC Foundation.

The Hearst Foundations are Paper Mill’s Education & Outreach Partner.

Merck 18-19 Paper Mill Playhouse Sponsor