Shakespeare in the Highland Heights


As a way to help our scholars develop creativity, communication skills, and discipline, Collegiate (CSM) offers fine arts as a part of our curriculum with performing arts as extracurricular programming.

Meet Kalisa, CSM Class of 2021. Over the course of this school year, Kalisa has been making strides to encourage more of her peers to be involved in performing arts at Collegiate.

Last semester Kalisa helped bring musical numbers from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway production, “In the Heights,” to the Collegiate cafeteria.

“I started listening to ‘In the Heights’ when I was in ninth grade and loved it. I had it on repeat for months. Last year, a friend and I were talking about how it would be a great musical to perform at Collegiate because some of the songs are in Spanish and it’s about a tightly knit, diverse community. I thought it would be a great representation of Collegiate,” Kalisa reflected.

With the help of faculty sponsors and a group of volunteers, in November, students, teachers, and parents came out to support Collegiate’s talented scholars as they performed “Highland Heights: A Musical Showcase”.  

Kalisa hasn’t always been involved in the performance arts. She enjoyed doing well in school and was not very interested in sports but found her outlet in musical theater after a friend suggested it.

“It started as a joke. Someone used to say to me all the time that I was so dramatic that I should go into theater. I actually took their advice, and a few years ago I tried out for the school talent show. That’s when I found out that I have a talent for experiencing other people’s emotions and how they feel,” Kalisa said.

Last week, Kalisa won Collegiate’s Shakespeare competition where scholars are able to perform a monologue for the opportunity to participate in the Memphis City Shakespeare Competition, the winner of which is sent to compete in New York City.

“I remember Kalisa as a ninth grader, and she had a book of monologues that she was reading through and making a list of the ones she wanted to perform someday.”  Ms. Roberts, a sponsor of the CSM Shakespeare competition, said as she shared a memory.

This will be Kalisa’s second time to represent Collegiate in the Memphis competition.

“I’ve been doing the Shakespeare competition for a couple of years now. I think it’s really fun because Shakespeare is hard to understand when you first read it, but once you are able to understand the character, the play, or even Shakespeare himself, it’s like being able to understand what seems like a different language.” Kalisa explained

When asked what she would like to see at Collegiate in five years in the fine arts department, she responded, “I would love to see a play or musical twice a semester and see a scholar make it all the way to the Shakespeare competition in New York City. I feel like there is a lot of untapped talent at Collegiate, and I want to see more scholars participate.”