Weekly roundup: Irvine student stars in ‘Sweeney Todd,’ ethnic studies curriculum gets a rewrite, and more

We’re technically starting this week’s roundup with a story from last week, but it’s one we’d be remiss in not sharing.

As the Orange County Register reported, a University High School sophomore served by OCDE’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing program recently landed a plum role in a local production of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

An image of paper in a typewriter with the words "Orange County Education News"Joe Saraceni, 15, communicates primarily through American Sign Language. So his character, Tobias “Toby” Ragg, naturally did the same in performances of the Stephen Sondheim musical. Adding a creative twist to “Sweeney,” the directors used a separate actor as a vocal shadow to speak and sing next to Joe.

Dina Del Rey, board president for Broadway On Tour, told the newspaper that the theater company had been exploring ways to make its productions more inclusive. Joe won them over because “he was a great Toby,” she said.

A fan of musicals from an early age, Joe said he learned about the auditions through instagram.

“When I hear about a musical I want to audition for, I watch it, and if I really like it I just go for it,” he said.

And here are some other education news stories we’ve assembled:

  • OCDE will host a virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday with state Superintendent Tony Thurmond, who will discuss efforts to close the achievement gap in California. Local educators are invited to attend the interactive session.
  • The OCDE Newsroom has created a printable, one-page guide outlining California’s health education content standards with a grade-by-grade breakdown of when specific subjects are covered.
  • Despite efforts, teen suicide continues to skyrocket across the nation, and suicide rates are even higher in our county, writes Orange County Register columnist David Whiting, who reached out to those who are battling the epidemic on the frontlines.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates or following us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.