HHS to present story of WW II female pilots
The powerful story of six women training to become Air Force pilots during World War II takes the stage this coming weekend as Holton High School will present “Decision Height.”
The drama, written by Meredith Dayna Levy, chronicles the lives of a small group of women as they undergo training to become members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, which was active in the United States from 1942 to 1944 flying in non-combat missions.
“It’s an important story to tell,” said director Audrey Baxter. “These women were swept under the rug and didn’t get acknowledged. They were even denied military benefits until just recently.”
Baxter said the relatively new script stood out among several she was looking through last summer.
“I knew I had a strong core of young women trying out for the play,” she said.
The plays follows the lives of the women in training and looks at their motivations for joining the WASPs, as well as their deep relationships toward each other.
“By training to be pilots, it freed the men to focus on battle overseas,” Baxter said. “They had to go through the same basic training as the men but weren’t give veteran status until recently.”
Baxter said props were borrowed from the local National Guard armory and the women’s flight suits are also on loan from retired veterans.
The play will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday at the high school auditorium. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students.
“This story isn’t in the history books, but I think it was a turning point for women as they were trying to gain more independence,” Baxter said.
Cast members include Kelcie Matousek (Norma Jean Harris), Anne Bowser (Eddie Harknell), Emma Wittmer (Virginia Hascall), Ashley Cook (Alice Hawkins), Sonora Sheldon (Carol Henderson), Ashlyn Robinson (Rosalie Hartson), Gladys Heitzman and Alexis Garcia will both play Mildred Simmons (one on Saturday and the other Sunday), Beth Mandala (Ziggie), Cassidy Smith (Mrs. Deaton) and Draven Wahwassuck (Rosenfield).
Brooklyn Klahr is the director’s assistant and crew members include Creighton Baxter, Walker Sheldon, Sydney Snyder, Megan Mercer and members of the Holton Middle School eighth-grade class.