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Students at Northwest D.C. high school gain confidence through sharing life stories

(Video, ABC7)

Inside a high school theater in Northwest, English as a Second Language students reveal things they don't typically share.

They are life stories expressed at Columbia Heights Education Campus. Deb Gottesman, Co-Founder of The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts explained the primary goal.

"To teach people who don't typically have much of a voice in our society how to create dramatic works based on their real life experiences," she says.

The Life Stories program offered by the Theatre Lab provides training in acting, storytelling, writing and directing. At Columbia Heights more than 100 students have benefited from the program. The theatre classes culminate with a stage performance that leaves students changed.

"I think they connect with my story and then when I hear their stories, I connect with them," 16-year-old Gerardo Hernandez told ABC7 News.

ESL Teacher Erik Montes has seen the impact the program has had on her students.

"It also empowers them. It makes them stronger talking about the hard things in life," she stated.

Tenth grader Martiza Mundo feels more confident.

"Before, I was the student who sat in the back and didn't say anything at all. Now, I can speak in any class," said Mundo.

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