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YOUTH INSPIRED: Lighting the way for other kids
Behind and above the audience in the Spectrum Community School theatre, Beth Langkamer has a perfect view of the stage.
It’s not one she often gets to enjoy. Usually she’s eyeing up the minute details of the show, looking for the things that could go awry, keenly aware of the lines onstage and directions coming through her headset, awaiting cues for lighting or sound effects.
“During rehearsals I focus on preparing, make sure I know who to call, what to call, cue lights appropriately, sound cues,” she explains.
Last month, as stage manager for the Spectrum musical The Drowsy Chaperone, the Grade 12 student was so prepared, she got to laugh along with the audience.
“Technically it was really smooth,” she says. “This show, because I was prepared, I could sit back a little. I actually got to watch the show a little bit while still doing my job. It was a great show. It was so much fun to do.”
It’s not unusual for her to run the background and technical aspects of school events.
“Most of the stuff she does is behind the scenes,” says Spectrum principal Rob House. “She does these things so selflessly. … She bridges between school and community.”
Teacher Jeff Marchi describes the 18-year-old as “focussed, compassionate, diligent, reliable, conscientious.”
“She does it all and she does it with a smile on her face. I don’t hear her doing a lot of complaining, even when things aren’t going as they should be going. She provides a great model for the younger kids to follow,” says Marchi, an English and Leadership teacher at Spectrum community school.
Langkamer ensures she can fit multiple school activities into her schedule, while still finding the time for things like Social Justice class fundraisers. This year that class raised money to adopt wolves through a program in Washington state and to help families rebuild in the Philippines following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in November.
“I like doing (volunteer work), I make the time for it,” Langkamer says.
She plays down her volunteer work in the community as “fun little things.” (Modesty is another one of her endearing qualities.)
“She’s basically the kid that’s pretty much involved in every single activity we put on,” Marchi says. “All those things are her initiatives. In addition to doing all the things we need her to do for school leadership, she thinks of other things, and drags other kids along with her in a good way.”
Nola Paxton, administrator of Saanich’s Extreme Outreach Society, has known Langkamer since she was a youngster herself and was recruited for the outreach crew, who provide mentorship to at-risk children in Greater Victoria
“It sounded like something I wanted to do,” Langkamer says of getting involved in Superkids Saturdays, where the organization’s mandate that “every kid is important” rings true. With 40 to 75 kids showing up every Saturday, volunteers like Langkamer are a blessing, Paxton says.
The program for kids aged six to 12 runs about two months each spring, offering them a place to creatively learn healthy life skills, through games, song, Bible stories and special events.
Langkamer, sister to two younger brothers, believes wholeheartedly in the organization’s objective to make kids feel, and know, that someone cares about them.
“It’s a few fun hours for them, and most of them are lower income and don’t have the access or opportunities to do these kinds of activities,” she says. “I really love working with the kids. It’s nice to give them somewhere they feel nice and safe, and loved and involved.”
Langkamer helps with camp, barbecues and Christmas dinners through the outreach society.
“I look for kids like Bethany who aren’t doing it because it’s a requirement for graduation, they’re doing it because they want to help people. She just loves it. She loves to play with the kids, yet she’s got no problem coming in to help with paperwork, or working in the kitchen,” Paxton says. “She always does it the same way, 200 per cent, because she knows it benefits.”
Marchi describes Langkamer as a stellar student full of “fairness and justice.” The Grade 12 student – who has a full course load, plus online self-paced programs – is set to graduate in June. Her plan is to keep giving in a different capacity after high school, with aspirations of eventually earning a PhD in naturopathic medicine, after completing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Victoria.
“She has a lot of compassion in her heart. She really looks out for the little guy. She has a real sense of fairness and social justice and all her actions reflect that. She’s a gritty kid, she doesn’t come from a lot of wealth – everything she has, she’s had to work for,” Marchi says. “Though she has a lot of plates in the air, she’ll throw another up in the air.”
Other stories in this series:
YOUTH INSPIRED: Turning awkward moments into positive memories (Grace Boothman, Pacific Christian School)
YOUTH INSPIRED: Making a little hello go a long way (Sage Broomfield, Claremont seconday school)
YOUTH INSPIRED: Building community connections (Tamiko Sianen, Mount Douglas secondary)
YOUTH INSPIRED: Passion and patience (Cindy Kim, St. Michaels University School)