For struggling teens, the support they need can come unexpectedly — from drama teachers.
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NBC's Rise

When Kevin Bohl started high school, he felt like an outsider.

He was the new kid in town, and he and his mother had just moved into a tightknit community.

“Everyone knew everyone else. Picture Bedford Falls from ‘It's a Wonderful Life,’” he says. “I knew no one. It seemed that all of the other freshmen had been going to school forever.”


To not feel invisible, he joined the football team — but he only showed up to one practice.

“I forgot to think about whether I wanted to play football,” he explains. “Turns out, I didn't.”

Back at square one, he could have easily felt discouraged — but that’s when he saw the drama club’s autumn production. He fell in love immediately.

The next semester, he signed up for drama, a decision that would not only change his high school experience, but introduce him to a teacher who he would never forget — Mr. K.

“He gave me my first lead role,” Bohl says. “His trust in me, an unknown kid, meant more to me than he will ever know.”

That role not only placed Bohl in the spotlight, it finally gave him the sense of community for which he was desperately looking.

Kevin Bohl, present day.  Image by Simone Scully/Upworthy.

“[Mr. K] was like no one I'd ever met. He spoke to all of his students like adults. We could curse in class, which was utterly scandalous,” Bohl remembers. “And he chose projects that challenged us. He wanted us to think and feel.”

Being given space to think and feel might seem simple — but it can have a profound effect on teens who are just coming into their own.

“High school students have such fraught emotional lives,” Bohl says. “I can't imagine a discipline better suited to [guiding] a teenager through that time than a drama teacher.”

That’s because drama teachers like Mr. K give students much more than stage directions.They provide a safe haven for teens to express themselves and heal.

Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, an associate professor in the UTeach Theater program at the University of Texas at Austin, knows this better than most. She’s an expert in preparing professionals to teach drama in high schools and knows just how important it is for teachers to empower the youth they work with.

Image via iStock.

“For marginalized youth in particular, theater can be a place where their voices matter,” she explains. “The best theater teachers engage students in the creative process, ask questions, make space for and amplify young people’s voices.”

A teacher who isn’t afraid to tackle the sometimes difficult material that speaks to the kids they’re teaching can have a profound impact on students. The benefits of doing so are undeniable.

With a good teacher, theater becomes more than a fun hobby for kids. It becomes the foundation for better mental health and academic outcomes.

According to the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, drama classes not only improve standardized test scores, they decrease dropout rates and improve self-esteem.

“[Drama teachers] can, and often do, provide empathy for [struggling] kids,” Bohl says. “They can focus students’ disabilities in productive directions.”

Image via iStock.

With this kind of support, students who participate in the arts are three times more likely to win an award for attendance, directly linking investment in the arts to increased engagement at school. In other words, when students are given a voice, they show up.

“[Theater teachers] encourage young people to think critically, consider their role in the world, how to empathize and engage with others,” Schroeder-Arce says. “[These are] skills that we all need to be effective in our work, in our homes, in our communities.”

Today, Bohl — now 51 — is a working actor in New York, and not once has he forgotten the impression that Mr. K left on him.

“To this very day, there is nowhere I feel safer than in a theater or rehearsal space working on a show,” he says. “[Mr. K was] instrumental in instilling my own belief in my abilities, challenging me to stretch them, and making it safe for me to fail.”

Kevin Bohl in a theater.  Image by Simone Scully/Upworthy.

For Bohl that sense of safety was invaluable. “[Drama teachers] are unsung heroes,” he says.

While Bohl began high school feeling invisible, it was teachers like Mr. K who made him feel seen. And while that might seem like a small gesture, it can make all the difference.

Based on a true story, NBC’s new drama "Rise" has inspired us to look for other real stories about the impact of great teachers and drama classes on high schoolers' lives. "Rise" premieres on March 13 after "This Is Us." Click here to see the trailer for this new show.

via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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Public Domain

A very simple thing happened earlier this week. Dr. Seuss Enterprises—the company that runs the Dr. Seuss estate and holds the legal rights to his works—announced it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss children's books because they contain depictions of people that are "hurtful and wrong" (their words). The titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

This simple action prompted a great deal of debate, along with a great deal of disinformation, as people reacted to the story. (Or in many cases, just the headline. It's a thing.)

My article about the announcement (which contains examples of the problematic content that prompted the announcement) led to nearly 3,000 comments on Upworthy's Facebook page. Since many similar comments were made repeatedly, I wanted to address the most common sentiments and questions:

How do we learn from history if we keep erasing it?

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