May 4, 2021
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
DIAMOND BAR-CA—Diamond Bar High School Drama teacher Jared Kaitz was busily readying students for a “Phantom of the Opera” concert rehearsal on Monday afternoon.
The dedicated educator and alumnus had no idea moments later he would be the one taking center stage as recipient of a SoCal Honda Random Act of Helpfulness.
After a year in COVID-19 lockdown, Kaitz finally had about a dozen of his actors on campus - in full costumes and wigs – ready to practice in front of a huge green screen set up in the quad.
The other half of the ensemble was joining from home via Zoom.
“I’ll also be recording their parts and after I edit it all together it will look like everyone is in person,” Kaitz shared as he dashed around helping students with last minute adjustments.
“It feels like the real thing today fixing ripped costumes with safety pins!” he quipped.
Kaitz had been told that a camera crew would be documenting the drama troupe for a Walnut Valley USD 50th anniversary project.
It was all a ruse, of course!
As students began performing the signature song “Masquerade”, a blue SoCal Helpful Honda car rolled up and the camera crew sprang into action to record a commercial.
Kaitz was presented with $5,000 worth of educational supplies including a dance floor, blue tooth speaker, and MacBook Pro computer.
He was lauded for providing an inclusive theater program that allows every student to feel accepted and to be comfortable to be their most authentic self.
“We hope this will help your productions come to life - congratulations!” the Honda spokesman said.
“Thank you, this means the world to us!’ the stunned teacher commented.
Instructional Dean Julie Galindo nominated Kaitz for the special accolade.
“Jared has done amazing things for the Drama department and all of our students,” she lauded, detailing his seamless transition from an in-person to online learning platform.
This year alone, the creative director presented over nine virtual productions that he wrote, edited, and produced.
Kaitz sewed the costumes, held daily online rehearsals, and recorded the actors’ performances on green screens.
“It’s pretty amazing for one person to do all that!” Galindo said.
“You’ve been instrumental in making this last year, which was difficult for everybody, something that your students were still able to enjoy,” praised Board President Layla Abou-Taleb.
Students quickly chimed in to sing his praises.
“Mr. Kaitz has made this year better than any of us could have imagined!” said Ana Barradas.
“He’s been such a lifeline for all of us during this crazy year and I can’t thank him enough!”
added senior Diego Tamayo.
“He’s been such an amazing ray of sunshine - especially during COVID-19 his class has been like a refuge for us,” said classmate Allison Santogrossi.
“He’s definitely made an impact on each and every one of us!” shared Alyssa Guerra.
The school’s Phantom of the Opera spring production was cancelled last year due to the pandemic outbreak.
“Now we’re able to come back together (in person) to present a concert with selected songs from the show,” Kaitz said.
“It’s an honor to be back here with this amazing group of students!”
“We knew Mr. Kaitz was creative and an out-of-the box thinker, but this year he showed us so much more!” Tamayo added.
Teacher Appreciation Week! Diamond Bar High School Drama teacher Jared Kaitz surprised with SoCal Honda Random Act of Helpfulness on May 3.
Diamond Bar High drama students pay tribute to teacher Jared Kaitz during Helpful Honda presentation.
Nominator Instructional Dean Julie Galindo shares accolades for teacher Jared Kaitz.
Diamond Bar High School drama students rehearse for Phantom of the Opera concert on May 3.