(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Sandy Johnson, a 2021 Collegiate High School Graduate, was part of the cast and costume design team in “The Wiz”. It was easily the most challenging Cedar Hill High School Theatre Production for reasons beyond their control.
While many other high schools canceled their musicals in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Cedar Hill Theatre Teacher Bethany Kennedy – the reigning CHISD Secondary Teacher of the Year – had an iron resolve that they show must go on.
But Kennedy and her scholars knew that it came at a price. They would have to follow strict social distancing and safety protocols.
Johnson was responsible for making the masks for all of the singers in “The Wiz” – so that scholars would remain safe, while making it possible for the socially distanced audience to hear them.
Johnson said she learned key skills that she will take to law school next fall, from her experience in the Theatre Program.
“Theater is about problem solving – learning life lessons and running with them,” said Johnson, who played Glinda and several other characters in “The Wiz”. “Mrs. Kennedy is a great teacher and a great leader.”
Kennedy became the first Collegiate Scholar to participate in CHHS Theatre, paving the way for more Collegiate scholars to follow in her footsteps.
In addition to “The Wiz”, she performed as villain Vivian Kensington in “Legally Blonde” as a junior and as a cast member in “Newsies” as a sophomore.
“Sandy is a prime example of why Fine Arts is vital to a high school journey – regardless of what they plan to study in college and beyond,” Kennedy said. “Fine Arts can help teach the time management and interpersonal communications skills needed for any career. Sandy somehow managed to juggle Collegiate classes, work and rehearsals every year and excelled in all areas.”
Johnson is a senior at Texas A&M University-Commerce, set to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at age 19 this May.
She’s been accepted to New England School of Law in Boston, with a full scholarship and plans to study Family Law. Johnson is considering that school as well as law schools in Texas.
“I want to be able to help families and to make a difference,” Johnson said. “Ever since elementary school, I was into politics and social justice. I knew that was the track I wanted to pursue.”
Johnson currently works in the A&M Commerce Athletic Office. When she’s home on school break, she works at the Cedar Hill locations of Nothing Bundt Cakes and Target.
Johnson was a junior and senior at Collegiate, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, which meant she took most of her classes online. That allowed her to balance academics, theatre and her part-time job at Dunkin Donuts in Cedar Hill during that time.
A lifelong Longhorn, Johnson attended Plummer Elementary, Joe Wilson Intermediate and Permenter Middle School before Collegiate.
“Collegiate was challenging, but it was a great opportunity,” Johnson said. “It allowed me to earn college credits, debt free, and enabled me to fast track my education.”
She’s kept strong ties to the Collegiate Program, as her college roommate at Commerce is a fellow Collegiate graduate.
CHISD Executive Director of Elementary Education Heath Koenig, who was Chancellor of the Collegiate Pathway, said Johnson left an important legacy in the district.
“Sandy is an amazing scholar who excelled not only in academia but also as a thespian,” Koenig said. “She was a joy as a scholar and was very involved in school. She will use these skills as she pursues her passion to become a successful lawyer.”