Community is a place that has a feeling of fellowship, a place with people who have the same goals, interests and attitudes. That sense of community is evident at East Bakersfield High School and, more specifically, the East High theater department, which presents its production of "In the Heights" this weekend.

Written by Tony winner and "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, "In the Heights" focuses on the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, following a young storeowner who watches the joys and heartbreaks of his tight-knit community as they pass through his bodega. With the community on the brink of change, residents must decide which traditions to carry one and which to leave behind.

For the past three months, I have been co-directing the production of the award-winning musical. This show is full of bright, energetic music and dances. Student performers have worked countless hours to produce an exciting show that will brighten people's love for the performing arts. The cast includes Gisselle Arinaga, Grace Calvillo, Jenny Rejon, Magali Zuniga, Ismael Garcia, Paris Grier, Christian Flores, Noah Garcia and Amelia Mendiola. 

Directing has been a challenging but rewarding process. Working with theater instructor Jenna Odlin, I have learned so much. One of the biggest challenges has been trying to get the students to take my directions and criticism, and still remain friends outside of rehearsal. Working with my peers has helped me grow closer to them. Although life might get in the way sometimes, directing such talented kids has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. Every day when I enter through the theater doors I am welcomed with a fun and positive atmosphere that pushes me to do great things as a director.

We have become not just a community, but a family. Every single one of these astounding students has worked their tails off to produce this amazing show. They have pushed themselves to produce a show that will rock the socks off of anyone who comes to see it.

Once you watch this show, you will leave feeling like a part of this community, and of East High's theater family.

— Grace Cecil is a junior at East High and co-director of "In the Heights."

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