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The Student News Site of Liberty High School

Patriot Press

The Student News Site of Liberty High School

Patriot Press

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Wishing You the Vest: Theater Teacher Leaves His Mark on Liberty


After two years with Liberty High School, Theatre director and teacher, Mr. Vest has decided to move forward in his career. Leaving the Eagle’s Nest for an amazing opportunity to do what he’s been wanting all his life. Even though he will be missed by so many of our staff and students, we are happy to see him check something off his list of things to do in his life.

Mr Vest as a teenager attended Fauquier High School and used his theatre class as motivation and freedom to be himself and not be scared to express his true self, “It gave me purpose, It gave me a reason to get out of bed every day and come to school because I could be myself, I didn’t have to hide behind this or that,” said Vest. After he graduated high school, Vest went on to study at George Mason University where he studied Theatre education, performance, physical acting, and clowning. His teaching career started in 2016 when he taught at a private school. After a while, he decided that public school was something he wanted to try out. Shortly after in 2020, he changed to public school. Throughout his years of teaching, he has been privileged to teach and work with actors of all ages, from elementary school to older adults. 

His reason for wanting to become a teacher is a very heartwarming and sweet story. His grandmother, someone whom he greatly looked up to, was a teacher in the Philippines, and when she moved to this area in the 1940s she became an English and History teacher. Because of this, from a young age, he always wanted to be like her and teach. Another one of his goals was to make a safe space for all students the same way his theatre teacher did for him and for them to be able to have that escape within school hours. He has always loved being a teacher because he was able to combine his love of performance, theatre, and education all into one.

Mr. Vest explains how his passion for acting started from a very young age for him. He grew up going to see the circus and his dream was always to be a clown but at the time there were no circus’ in Virginia so his parents suggested that take acting classes instead. “I started doing theatre at the age of 5, so my passion has grown since then.“ said Vest. Dreaming of being a clown in a circus is not common and it may sound like something a kid would say but will never happen. But for Mr Vest, it was not just a meaningless fantasy, it is his passion. He thought it was possible to make his dream a reality when he was in college. “My college offered clowning classes and commedia dell’arte which is the art of comedy so that’s when I thought that maybe I could do this,” he said.

 Mr. Vest recently got offered to work as a clown in the show Le Grand Cirque Adrenaline in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He confesses that it was a very hard decision whether to accept or not this job offer. He first found out when his agent called him saying that his name was put in consideration to join a show in South Carolina. They called in January offering him this show and he immediately said no. “I didn’t think I was ready, especially now that I’m at this high point of my teaching career. I didn’t think it was right to leave yet so I declined the contract,” he commented. But the circus insisted and called again 2 weeks later, this time trying to convince him by offering a lot of money. But he still refused. “I didn’t wanna go, I’m very happy teaching, I love teaching and even if I was going and doing a show, I wouldn’t want to leave in the middle of the school year,” he explained. But the circus was not going to give up so they called another time after three weeks. “When they called the last time I had a feeling in my gut and thought maybe this was the right decision. Because it is not like I can get this kind of opportunity again,” said Vest. Another important element in his decision is that this show means a whole lot to him. In fact, he explains that it is the first circus he ever saw and this is the show that inspired him. Without seeing this show he would have never wanted to be a clown and so the more he thought about it the more he realized that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and then he ended up taking it. Mr Vest feels very humbled by the fact that the show’s people knew about him and wanted him to join and the fact that people have been saying that he took the job only for the money or to live at the beach bothered him. “It is not about that. It’s because four-year-old Mister Vest saw this show and knew what he wanted to do when he grew up and now that I have the opportunity to go do it and maybe inspire someone else twenty years from now to take my place is surreal” he commented. 

Even though the theatre teacher is very excited to start this new adventure, it still hurts to leave his students. “I always say it’s bittersweet but it’s more bitter than it is sweet right now” he added. 

The musical The Addams Family is coming up this spring but Mister Vest is not concerned that he won’t be there. He has a strong team he trusts. Miss O’Konski is the music director of the show so she is taking over the overall job of the director to oversee the production and Miss Grace who is the choreographer is also going to help in that matter.”With the support I have, I feel very confident that the show will continue and it will grow. Some things will change because it is different eyes and it’s not me saying what I want and what I don’t want” he mentioned. 

He says he is very proud of all the cast and crew and the production team. “We’ve grown so much. I don’t believe I need to be concerned about anything.” He knows for sure that everything is going to work just fine even without him. “Someone new is gonna step in and they want the same things I wanted, meaning to create the best program, a strong wonderful place to be, a safe place to be.” 

He expresses his gratitude and how sad he is leaving teaching “I’m very grateful for my time here at Liberty. This job has shaped me as a person so it’s very sad. But I’m proud of every single one of my students I ever had and without them, I wouldn’t be able to grow and become who I am.“ 

The likelihood of him returning to Liberty, or any school, any time soon, could be a lot higher. “When thinking about leaving and coming back, you have to remember, students graduate. I leave and come back, it’s a new batch of kids. I might have one or two that I had in their freshmen year if I was to come back in a few years,” But, all of his family is still here in Fauquier, and because of that he will be back to visit occasionally, most likely not for work reasons. 

Finally, he wants to show how important it is to follow our dreams and want to be an example. “I always tell students to do what you love and love what you do and I am following my dreams as a teacher. I do what I love and I love what I do but now I was given another dream to go and chase. What could I be as a teacher to say follow your dreams if I’m not gonna follow mine and so that’s what I’m doing.” he concludes.

On a more personal aspect, Mr. Vest knows that being separated from his family will be hard. He will miss spending time with them, especially not seeing his brothers as much is going to be heartbreaking for him. He also admits that he is scared. It is going to be a big jump for him to leave Virginia and Fauquier Country, his home, to go somewhere he does not know all by himself. He says change is frightening but he is ready for it. “Someone asked me if I thought it was worth it and I think it is but it is also a sacrifice “ he commented.

Throughout his time here at Liberty, Mr. Vest has changed the lives of countless students and made his classroom a safe space for all who take his class. His determination to make every one of his students better actors in some way and give them the confidence to not be afraid will forever be appreciated. His time here with LHS will always be remembered by those who had him and he will be very missed. This bittersweet goodbye will be hard for us all, but being able to see a teacher follow another one of his lifelong dreams could inspire other students to do the same.

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About the Contributors
Lara Prandi
Lara Prandi, Staff Reporter
Hi! My name is Lara Prandi and I am an exchange student from France at Liberty High School.  I am on the track team. I enjoy theatre, reading, and spending time with my friends and my siblings. I love traveling, discovering new things, meeting new people, and making experiences. I like to write and I am very curious. This is my first year as a member of the Patriot Press staff, and I am so excited about that!
Gayle Naughton
Gayle Naughton, Staff Reporter
Hello, my name is Gayle and I am a junior at LHS. I love to read books, listen to music, and write stories. My favorite subject has always been history but I recently discovered a love for chemistry and I love helping out behind the scenes in theatre. This is my first year in journalism and I am excited to write stories!

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