10 Questions With...
A new feature to the THS Drama Boosters website, 10 Questions With...offers visitors to our site the opportunity to learn more about the amazing individuals guiding the THS drama program.
Vicki van den Eikhof, THS Drama Boosters Founder and Past President
1) Why did you start the THS Drama Booster Program?
We live in Atascadero and all my kids attended the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy, where they did a rotation in theatre and performed in plays there after school. My oldest wasn’t very academically inclined, so when he auditioned for his first high school musical and got a small solo, I was excited for him. He came home from school and said, “Mom, I’ve found my people.” The Atascadero High School (AHS) theatre program, led by Catherine Kingsbury, kept him involved in school and gave him something to succeed at – something he could get positive recognition for.
I joined the drama boosters at AHS and signed up to bring a couple of meals to rehearsals, attended a dinner theatre, and donated an auction item. The next year, I went to my first drama booster meeting, and I became the president. My first full year as a drama booster (president) was a doozy. We performed “Young Frankenstein” and “Footloose” at the TPAC and I watched my son blossom on the stage. He filled it with his presence, and I was honestly surprised at how he did that (although it helps to be really tall). My son graduated in 2014.
That same year, Ms. Kingsbury transferred from AHS to Templeton High School (THS), and we followed. My second child was dedicated to the theatre (and devastated to have Ms. Kingsbury changed schools), and we really respected the way Ms. Kingsbury ran her program. There was not a drama boosters’ organization at THS, so I started one in fall of 2014. All three of my girls attended THS and all of them participated in the theatre program, both in classes and after school. From 2014-2023 I was an officer on the drama booster board. Sometimes VP, or treasurer, but mostly president.
2) Why is high school drama so important in your view?
It’s important for students like my own children. The ones who don’t fit in easily in other places. The theatre is such a welcoming place. There is truly a place for everyone. If you don’t want to be on stage, there is tech, props, costumes, hair and make-up, front-of-house activities, fundraising, and promoting.
That means we need lots of different kinds of personalities and skill sets. Watching kids come in shy and awkward and then four years later, seeing them rock a big role on stage is so gratifying. I love the growth that so many students experience in theatre. And it’s doubly important for those kids who feel like they aren’t successful or don’t fit in in other places.
3) What is your favorite memory as Drama Boosters President?
There are so many, it’s hard to pick one. Chaperoning three trips to Scotland (one with AHS, two with THS) are at the top of the list. Some of the best memories are, fittingly, associated with some of the most stressful or difficult times. Raising the money to go on a huge field trip, preparing a performance for the road, keeping track of the students while traveling, and making sure they’re safe and having a good time, can really stress a person out! But getting through those difficult months and then actually doing the stuff at the end can’t be beat. Those were exceptional.
But there are a lot of everyday things that I got to see through participating in the drama boosters that I hold close to my heart. The kids who take the risk to move from behind the scenes to the spotlight (and then love it) is one of those. Or the unexpected way a student takes on a leadership role. The leaders aren’t always who people think they are. Watching how some students struggle to learn their lines, songs, dances, tech sequences, etc., but then put on a great performance in the end. This is why I kept coming back year after year. And for me, making friends with the parents of my kids’ friends was something I always looked forward to.
4) Any funny stories you can share?
So many on-stage “bloopers!” Like when Juliet couldn’t get the dagger at the end to stab herself because Romeo had died on top of it, so she improvised. Or when the motorcycle the cat was pushing tipped over in Cinderella and the cat rolled with it, just like a cat would do. Then there's the hilarious things the students do when they think there are no adults around to see – but everyone knows that all parents have eyes in the back of their heads.
5) What will you miss most about being president?
I got a lot of satisfaction out of running things. I liked being someone who knew the answers or could find the answers when questions came up. I think it’s part of being the oldest of eight children. It will be difficult to step aside and let other people do that. But it is the right thing to do if we want to have a drama booster program that continues without me.
6) What has been your biggest challenge as president?
When parents complain about the teacher is probably the hardest thing to deal with. The drama boosters exist to support the teacher, whoever they are (and the program in general). The school hires the teacher, and the boosters get to support that person – they don’t get to pick them. That’s how it works. No one is perfect. We all do the best we can. Giving and receiving that grace is difficult. And much appreciated by all.
7) What is your favorite THS Fall Show? Spring Musical?
My favorite musical is maybe “Cinderella” in 2016, or “My Fair Lady” in 2018, or “The Addams Family” in 2019. I’m having a hard time picking. For straight plays, I really liked “Romeo & Juliet” in 2014, “1984” in 2015, “The Crucible” in 2019, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 2022.
8) What is your favorite play/musical?
The first off-Broadway production I ever saw was “Les Misérables.” It’s probably still my favorite. I had read the book before seeing the show and I cried like a baby during the performance.
9) What will you be doing now that you are no longer president?
I got a job that I will get paid to do! The interesting thing is this job has nothing to do with what I went to school for (sports medicine) and everything to do with all the things I learned while volunteering as a drama booster. I learned so much by starting the drama boosters at THS. I learned about non-profit rules, management, accounting, fundraising, etc. That’s now what I get paid to do.
I encourage parents to get involved with the drama boosters. It’s a great way to support an important program at THS. The theatre program meets the needs of a diverse group of students who might not have their needs met as easily elsewhere. And it will benefit you: your relationship with your student, with their friends, and their friends’ parents, and the teacher, and you’ll learn things you didn’t expect to learn, and do things you didn’t expect to do. It’s a wonderful opportunity!
10) Of all the on-stage roles you’ve had, which is your favorite and why?
I think my favorite role in any show is one that involves singing. I played Rosie Alvarez in our church’s production of Bye-Bye Birdie in 2011 or 2012. It was lots of fun, especially the singing. The dancing was a lot harder. The entire family was in the show. That was the best part. My husband played the male lead. It was fun.
We got to kiss on stage.