BROCKTON, Mass. — Have you ever heard of a person becoming an institution in what they help create? Carol Thomas, 67, has become an institution of the theater arts variety. She has become a legend. In Brockton, Mass., the city many call the City of Champions, Thomas’ tenure lasted 35 years. With her help, Brockton’s Drama program flourished.
Carol Thomas is a life-long resident of Brockton. She attended elementary and junior high school there and later graduated from Brockton High School in 1959. As a child, she was always interested in the arts, and that interest followed her in her formative years.
After graduating college, Thomas came back to her beloved Brockton and began to teach at West Junior High School. In 1971, everything began to happen in succession for her. She, along with Thomas Richards, produced the musical Brigadoon, which then led to a decades-long foundation for theater arts in Brockton. That same year, she established the Brockton High School Drama Club.
With her smile that seems natural to her countenance and a blonde bob, Carol Thomas is one cute white 5’ 4’’ 67 year-old lady. She sits down with her hands crossed against her chest and laughs, “I had always been so lucky.” Taking a pause she smiles. “I loved everything about theatre and I was later able to live my dreams in my hometown. It was a dream come true.”
During her tenure as the teacher of dramatics, she created an outstanding curriculum for the class and after school club. Under her direction, the Drama Club grew to produce four major productions a year, finishing with the spring musical. The musicals she helped create and direct rivaled that of professional theater companies. They had crews working on sets, beautiful costuming, and large dance and choral production numbers.
Her work in the Drama Club led to her involvement with the Massachusetts High School Drama Club Guild Festival, an annual event in which high schools from across the state showcase themselves and perform 40- minute plays to compete for the state title. For more than 25 years she was a board member of that guild, and she led the Brockton High Drama Club to the winner’s circle three times, in 1977, 1980 and 2000.
“That has always been the best time of year for me.” she said “Seeing what my students can do. I have grown to cherish them all.”
She is cherished as well. Students of hers have been touched for generations. Many people agree that she has enhanced their personal characters along with their on- stage ones. Many of her future students grew up with her in the summer camp she created called Act One Scene One.
Elise Thomas, 20, was one to grow under the watchful eyes of Thomas. “I feel like I have known her forever. Since I was a child I have helped with plays at the school and been involved in Act One Scene One. I have known her, and she has been like a grandmother to me. She touches everyone she meets.”
Thomas and a small team of enthusiastic teachers began to run this summer camp in 1976, and it has since become one of Brockton Community School’s most well-known and enriching programs for children.
“Act One Scene One is an amazing opportunity. I started doing it from the age of eight. Mrs. Thomas had such an empowering look at life. She pushed us and we gave back. It was a great way to start and learn to love to act.” said Alex Gould, 19.
Many loved her, but some would admit that she was a bit hard to please. “She was constantly on you, and it was a bit hard sometimes, trying to live up to her expectations. She had her tenure. I think it is good to have new blood in the department now.” said an old student of hers, Jennifer Diyaolu, 22.
In the year of 2005, Thomas finally decided to step down as the dramatics teacher at Brockton High School, but still continues to advise and support the drama program she helped create as much as she can.
“She has inspired me.” said Michael Gebreyal, 21, a former student of hers. “She has inspired so many. This summer I am coming back to help be a director at Act One Scene One along with many kids I know. We grew up doing it but we all come back to help out. She has created something that will stand the test of time. I don’t think anyone will ever let the theatre program go down the gutter. We will keep it strong for the city, for her. She has done so much.”
In 2006 the city she gave so much to wanted to give her something back. She received the Brockton Historical Society’s “Historic Citizen Award”, a great honor from the city. Dedication, hard-work, and determination paid off. She will always be remembered for her contribution to the city’s children. She earned the respect she holds today.
Thomas raves, “How can you not see how amazing this woman is? She created something that thrives today that has made our community that much better. She really is one of the best. She is what makes Brockton the City of Champions.”