Since first opening our doors in 1998, we have prepared hundreds of students to succeed in high school and beyond where they impact their communities. Throughout their time at The Oaks Academy, each alumni has built a strong foundation in faith and academics, fostered lasting bonds with classmates and teachers, and created memories to withstand the test of time. 

Rebecca Pinero, Class of ’20, starred as Juliet in Civic Theater’s 2024 production of Romeo and Juliet, and shared how The Oaks fostered a life-changing love of Shakespeare. 

Life-Changing Education

The Oaks first exposed me to Shakespeare in the third grade with our Spring Fling production of Julius Caesar. From then on, every year I attended The Oaks, I was introduced to a new Shakespeare work.

I was in every Shakespeare production offered at The Oaks during my time! I was Mark Antony in our third grade Spring Fling production of Julius Caesar and Juliet in our fourth grade Spring Fling production of Romeo and Juliet. In middle school, I played Feste in Twelfth Night, Rosalind in As You Like It, and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Oaks helped cultivate my love for the complexity and beauty of Shakespeare’s language and poetry, as well as the humanity and relatability found in each of his works. Because I was exposed to theater so early on through Shakespeare, I found it very easy and extremely fun to transition into outside theater productions and find my passion within the performing arts.

I credit The Oaks’ curriculum and the inclusion of Shakespearean studies in my early education with my love and pursuit of theater currently.

The Dream Role

Some of my favorite roles include Margot Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, Asaka in Once on This Island, Gayle in Almost, Maine, Miss Scarlett in CLUE, Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins, and, of course, most recently playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet!

Playing Juliet has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my acting career so far.

Balancing a role of that stature with college auditions and applications, school work, and other extracurricular involvements gave me a lot of insight as to what I’m capable of as a successful student and as a successful performer.

While playing Juliet, I was also auditioning and attending callbacks for multiple college musical theater and acting programs, including Carnegie Mellon University, Ball State University, Butler University, and Illinois Wesleyan University. I was also working towards receiving my International Baccalaureate Program Diploma and completing external school assignments in order to achieve my current goals as an IB student. I also work part time as a princess character entertainer, and have been participating in The Best Buddies Program, Spanish Honor Society and National Honor Society at my school!

Needless to say, my plate has been full, but I have been so grateful for the enrichment I experienced in balancing all of these amazing opportunities and constantly working towards my social, academic, and professional goals.

Favorite memory

My favorite memory from my time at The Oaks was playing Marie Antionette in our King Louis XVI trial in 8th grade! It was both a super fun research project and performance opportunity. I still have the dress that I wore to the trial!

Future Plans

I am almost certain I am attending Ball State in the fall! I recently received the amazing news that I was accepted into the Whitinger Scholars Program, which is the most prestigious scholarship program offered at Ball State. This program will cover all of my expenses in attending the university for all four years, and has an alumni network including former vice presidents, authors, actors, and secretaries of state.

I have also been accepted into their Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Acting program. I am thrilled about the multitude of opportunities that I have lined up at Ball State and am excited to see where they will take me in the future!

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About The Oaks

Restoring the Legacy of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library

In May 2024, The Oaks proudly reopened the historic Paul Laurence Dunbar Library inside our historic Martindale-Brightwood campus. Restored to its original footprint, the library will host the Mari Evans Residency for Artists and Authors of Color, fostering cultural exchange and education for the community.

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