Editorial: Grace under pressure


Editorial board members:

• Al Cashion

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Bridget Manley

— Newspaper representative

• Chris Nichols

— Community representative

• Jeff Pleasant

— Community representative

• Joshua Roberts

— Newspaper representative

Our View

Real life intruded on the fictional this week when tragedy cast a shadow over the Moffat County High School production of “Rehearsal for Murder.” However, the show went on in the face of harsh realities, and it was one of the finest hours for everyone involved. Be proud of your actors, school, faculty and the volunteers who helped, Craig and Moffat County, and catch tonight’s final showing to see these extraordinary people practice their stage craft.

The following comment was posted to the Craig Daily Press website Friday morning.

“I don’t see this as being particularly praiseworthy. I’m not going to criticize the kids, either, but there isn’t anything particularly admirable about conducting a high school play after the teacher suffers a monumental tragedy,” the anonymous reader commented, adding later, “I don’t particularly care about a (relatively) insignificant high school drama production.”

The comment, a prime example of how shortsighted thinking and an Internet connection can be a dangerous combination, was in reference to the Moffat County High School production of the mystery “Rehearsal for Murder,” and the tragic circumstances surrounding it.

The remarks reappear today not out of agreement, but to illustrate how completely incorrect the commenter’s views on the play and difficult conditions around it actually were.

A day before the play’s opening night, MCHS teacher and play director Heather Dahlberg learned three family members who were en route to Craig to watch the play were killed in a plane crash in Minnesota.

The crash and fatalities are heartbreaking, and the editorial board extends its thoughts and prayers to Ms. Dahlberg and her family in these difficult hours.

With a small, tight-knit cast of students who worked closely while preparing for the play with Dahlberg, and given they are teenagers and subject to constantly swirling emotions on the best of days, you can imagine (at least most of you — commenter not included) how such hard news could rattle the actors involved, particularly so close to opening night.

Also, one of the family members who died was Dahlberg’s mother, a woman who had been to previous performances and who had gotten to know some of the student actors, meaning the loss was also felt personally for some.

It was a delicate situation for the students, grieving director, school, and community.

It’s doubtful anyone would have blinked an eye if the performances had been postponed or outright cancelled. There would have been nothing wrong with such an option.

But here’s where our anonymous commenter got it wrong, here’s where the community should take pride: the grieving teacher wanted her students to perform as planned, even in her absence, and the students wanted to as well.

Contrary to the poster’s comments, this is absolutely admirable.

When they could have bowed out, could have folded when things got hard, they instead showed remarkable toughness and pushed forward, against the grain of adversity.

And isn’t that what life is all about?

Isn’t that something many adults don’t always have the inner strength and fortitude to do? Isn’t that exactly the behavior we hope our students exhibit?

Their grace under pressure was extraordinary, a true profile in courage.

Perhaps that’s a fact lost on the commenter, but the editorial board is betting that person’s view is a distinctly minority one, and it’s certainly not shared by this board or reflective of the community.

The editorial board also wants to commend the MCHS staffers and community volunteers who stepped in to assist the student actors. They are another example of what we’ve long known about our community: Craig and Moffat County takes care of its own.

We encourage everyone to take time tonight and catch the final performance of the play.

While there might be intriguing questions about the plot, there’s no such mystery when it comes to the courage it took by all involved to bring it to the stage.

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Jason Phillips 5 years ago

Since this editorial is directed squarely at me, I have a couple points of clarification.

First - My comment was questioning whether or not the decision to hold the production in such close proximity to a tragedy is truly praiseworthy. The answer depends on Ms. Dahlberg's wishes. And it's not that 'I don't care' about a high school drama in general - it's that 'I don't care' as much about a drama as I do the loss of human life and the profound effect it has on loved ones. So I was trying to make the point that this article heaping praise on these kids/parents/administrators for their decision might be misplaced.

If Ms. Dahlberg truly wanted the show to go on as planned - then I stand corrected - her wishes are the only ones that matter during this difficult time.

The reason I left the comment was because I came away with the impression - from reading the story - that these decisions were largely being made by the principal and students (who didn't just lose two family members). Based on my understanding of the story, the headline could have just as easily read, "Community Pats Itself on Back as Teacher Grieves." That's why I took issue.

"Schnellinger said Dahlberg was not under any obligation to direct the play." "The kids determined that … in the tradition of any theater, the show must go on."

Based on those two quotes I got the impression that the principal and the students decided to proceed with or without Dahlberg. It sort of felt like they went to Dahlberg and said "Hey, here is our plan, you don't have to participate. But the kids would like to proceed with the show." So, from my interpretation, it sounded as though Dahlberg had no choice but to go along with the plan and put on a happy face.

Now, based on this editorial and a couple of the comments directed at me, it's entirely possible that I am wrong. If this is truly what Dahlberg wanted, then good for her, good for the students, and shame on me for casting a negative light on them.

However, when the story says that Dahlberg declined to be quoted, and given the direct quotes that Bridget Manley selected, I came away from a seemingly "feel-good" story with an emptiness for Dahlberg. Instead of feeling triumph - I felt like a community missed an opportunity to postpone the play until Dahlberg could approach it with a clearer mind.

In any case - perhaps my feelings aren't representative of Dahlberg's. Or maybe they are. It's hard for me to know without her participation in the story.

Finally - I do take issue with the CDP cherry picking my OPINION from the comment section and then telling me why my views are "incorrect" in the editorial section. It's an opinion, not a fact, therefore I don't need you to affirm its validity. I have no problem debating it or having it printed on the front page - but to have the CDP editorial board publicly disparage my opinion seems awfully bush league and counterproductive to starting any kind of meaningful discussion.


lonelyone 5 years ago

Buff, I thought some of the same things you did when you posted earlier. I wasn't sure if I was reading the story wrong or not, but had the feeling it was the kids and the principal who wanted to continue on with the play, because I never got the impression it was the teacher who thought it should. Guess we were both wrong, huh?


Jason Phillips 5 years ago

@lonelyone - I'm still not 100% convinced that we are wrong.

The story sure reads as though she was coerced into letting the play go on as planned. And I don't understand why she'd decline comment for the story if she really felt like this was a praiseworthy event.

The whole thing still feels very callous to me and this editorial feels like a justification for a story that fell flat.


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