Hanover students excel on both field and stage
Many Nighthawks also participate in the school's music and theater programs
It’s no surprise that Bailey Kenworthy is an offensive lineman.
At 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, Kenworthy looks like someone built to protect quarterbacks and open holes for running backs. And that’s something the Nighthawks senior has done for the past four years.
He’s also a solid basketball player and member of the track and field team at Hanover. But it’s his other talent that typically catches people off guard.
Along with being a gifted athlete and a captain of this year's football team, Kenworthy is an accomplished singer and actor who has performed as a lead in plays and musicals at Hanover since his freshman year. He also sings in a male ensemble group called “Test On Your Own” (meant to sound like 'testosterone’) that performs concerts and occasionally sings the national anthem at sporting events.
“People look at me and they don’t think I’m a singer,” Kenworthy said. “At concerts, they think I’m one of the guys who sets up the stage, and then I’ll go up there and sing a solo. And then they’re like, ‘Was that Bailey Kenworthy?'”
Kenworthy isn’t the only student at Hanover participating in sports and performing arts. A good portion of the district's athletes perform in musicals or sing in an ensemble, according to music teacher Debra Smith.
“In Hanover, we’re a small school district, so we’re used to sharing our kids,” Smith said. “It’s just something that we’ve always kind of had to do.”
With only 453 students enrolled at Hanover, it’s not exactly surprising that students try to do multiple activities. What makes it impressive is that many of the students play prominent roles in all of them.
Junior Isaac Silver plays baseball year-round and has served as a lead in plays and musicals. Field hockey players Helen Rosenbrien, Genevieve Moorhead and Madison Reck have also played large roles in ensembles and productions, Smith said.
Productions that current Hanover students have participated in include "Sunset Boulevard," "Aida," "Little Mermaid," "Father of the Bride" and this year's "Jekyll and Hyde."
“We have awesome, awesome talent here,” Smith said. “That's just something that they have in them. But they make my job a lot easier."
Being talented at athletics and performing arts is one thing. Balancing both while still having time to be a student is another entirely.
With the school play taking place during the fall, and production of the musical going from February through April, kids who play sports throughout the year often have practices for both most days. Add in ensemble performances, homework and studying, and students' schedules can become pretty overwhelming.
Silver, who also serves as the junior class president, said he's often up until 1 or 2 a.m. doing homework on nights in the spring. Despite this workload, he manages to make the honor roll - and enjoys every moment of his hectic schedule.
“I’d be lying if I said it was easy,” Silver said. “It’s all about having a good foundation at home. When I come home, my mom says, ‘Ok, what do you need to get done?’ Especially during the spring. But if you want to get somewhere nowadays you’ve got to be well-rounded. Colleges look for that.”
Moorhead, who sings and acts while playing field hockey and working part-time at Half Pint Creamery, agreed with Silver that the long nights are worth it.
“A lot of late nights,” Moorhead said. “Some of us have jobs, so you’re balancing work, sports, school, music rehearsals. My parents are like, ‘Wow, how do you do it?’ They always say I need to cut back and relax, but I like doing everything. It’s fun.”
How do parents feel about their kids investing so much time in extracurricular activities? Eric Kenworthy, Bailey's father, said he and his wife love seeing their son pursue both sports and creative endeavors, but they make sure he realizes school comes first.
“It’s pretty straightforward; we just said there are certain things he has to do," Eric Kenworthy said. "He has to get good grades, and he knows that if he wants to do these things he has to get good grades. And he goes out and does it."
Hanover Principal Rina Houck said it wouldn't surprise her if students became too stressed from their schedules, but she's yet to see that happen.
"You would think with all they do that would be the case, but I don’t see any of them looking lethargic," Houck said. "Many of them get good grades and have jobs. They’re probably just as tired as most teenagers are."
In her two years at Hanover, Houck has been impressed by how the theater and music programs seem to be just as popular as sports. She credits this to the dedication and enthusiasm of Smith and theater directors Rene and Jessica Staub, who have helped Hanover win several Encore Awards for high school theater in York County.
"Both athletics and music are popular, and students want to be in both," Houck said. "Our theater entices them to do both because kids are drawn to things that are successful. It's something that Deb and the Staubs culturally groom in them. And they have a genuine love for their students."
Having students participate in both requires a good amount of cooperation between coaches and directors. This has never been a problem, according to Smith and football coach Bill Reichart.
Smith said she tries to schedule her practices around sporting events so that kids don’t become overwhelmed. Still, she admits “it’s hard to juggle everything."
Reichart, whose three sons Wesley, Clay and Garrett all played three sports and performed in musicals at Hanover, tries to help his players by scheduling the most important drills at the beginning of practices in case kids have to leave early for rehearsals.
Having played sports and acted during his own days as a Hanover student, Reichart encourages kids to expand their horizons. While he worries about students getting home after long days, he believes being busy can often bring out the best in them.
"It worries me when it comes to fatigue and driving," Reichart said. "But human beings by nature have wonderful attributes, and some of us don't tap into them. Sometimes when you put them in a stressful situation, everything they do gets better, not worse. I don't want to see a kid make a choice where they can't do something."
Another thing coaches, teachers, parents and students agree on is that students wouldn't be able to succeed in both without the Hanover faculty's passion toward helping students become well-rounded.
"Everybody at Hanover is really committed to being a team," Silver said. "No coach is going to get mad at you for trying to fulfill some other aspect of high school. Sometimes the director or the coach feels like, ‘Hey, I need this time. This is priority time.’ We make it work, and overall, it’s not a real challenge.”