Northwest ISD prides itself in being one of the fastest-growing and “most sought after” school districts in the state.
More than 19,000 students attend one of the 25 campuses across 14 municipalities. Each year, the district nabs honors in academic performance and financial planning and is a forerunner in implementing innovative teaching methods.
But the district’s grassroots beginning came through the relentless efforts of people in five different communities, faced with a crisis in their respective schools.
Northwest ISD staff and a handful of community members will tell that story in a play this weekend.
“Far and Wide” will be performed Friday and Saturday at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Rhome.
“The majority of the people that attend Northwest ISD schools are new because of our growth,” said Dr. Kevin Lacefield, NISD director of fine arts. “That got us talking about what really is the history of NISD. We have all these T-shirts that say, ‘Northwest ISD. Established 1949.’ But none of us really knew how the district came to be.”
So the staff started where all seasoned researchers go.
“An Internet search,” Lacefield said. “That took us to local libraries, where we found accounts written by various people. They described it as a pretty extensive process, very political, which we could imagine considering the number of towns – all of which had their own school district – being consolidated.”
With interest piqued, NISD staff set out to find a way to tell the story that would be educational and entertaining.
“And that’s how this play came to be,” Lacefield said. “We concentrated on Wise County, because that’s where it mostly started.”
With the help of longtime Wise County resident and NISD employee, Dennis McCreary, the group tracked down some of the people who had a hand in the merge.
“Once we started hearing their actual accounts, the play took a different direction,” Lacefield said.
Instead of simply having a cast perform the play, the performance will cut away to live accounts from folks, all who live in Wise County.
“It will be about half play dialogue, half actual accounts,” Lacefield said. “We found a lot of really interesting stuff and a lot of really cool people who struggled to make that happen. Most of us don’t realize what all these folks went through to make this district happen … Who better to tell that story than the people who actually lived it?”
Performances are 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, however each night begins earlier with a barbecue dinner at 6 p.m. Salt Creek, a local, Southern bluegrass band, plays at 6:15.
There is no cost, however tickets are required as seating is limited.
“We view it as a gift to the community for what all they went through,” Lacefield said. “It will be a time for people to come, eat food, listen to music and have fellowship with friends.”
Tickets are available at Aurora Baptist Church, Newark Baptist Church, Tater Junction or by calling the NISD fine arts office at 817-215-0159.
For more information, visit www.nisdtx.org/farandwide.
“It should be a fun night of celebrating, remembering and learning,” Lacefield said. “We wanted to present this as a gift to the community in just telling the story of what the folks went through, what their lives were like, what all they had to go through to get Northwest ISD established. I think it’s really neat. We hope people learn a lot; we hope people enjoy reminiscing.
“And we hope that people will appreciate all the sacrifices that were made to establish the wonderful, thriving district that we are today,” he continued. “Many of us have been here five, maybe 10 years, and the district has just been like this since we got here. We don’t really appreciate it until we hear what they did and why they did it.”
FAR AND WIDE
Free performances 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday
Chisholm Trail Middle School, Rhome
For tickets, call 817-215-0159.