Students at a Rockford high school put on performances designed to explore key issues, impacting communities not just in our region, but around the world.

From breaking down body image to discussing mental health, Guilford High School students took to the stage, bridging the gap between the audience and the tough topics.

“We don’t have to agree with each other but we do have to respect each other,” said Melissa Wolf.

Through performing a collection of scenes from notable works like The Laramie Project and American Son, students explore “Understanding Biases.”

“It’s important to show people that they’re not alone and that other people go through it too. When you see that on stage, you get to see other people step into your shoes,” said Tez Lockhart.

With monologues discussing body image and mental health, acting teacher Melissa Wolf says her students can approach difficult conversations through a unique lens.

“I listen to my students and I like to connect with them on their level and they have a lot of things that they want to talk about. And sometimes, they don’t feel comfortable talking about them, but they can do it through an art medium,” said Wolf.

As they prepare for their debut, junior Tez Lockhart says he hopes their work will start a much needed dialogue in the community.

“We get to talk about those heavy hitting topics that other schools are just afraid to talk about, and we’re going to show them that, ‘you can talk about it, don’t be afraid, just do it,'” said Lockhart.

Because of the sensitive subject matter, KP Counseling worked with students as they rehearsed, as well as audience members throughout the show, providing a resource for safe reflection.