A Class Act: Experience on stage brings real-life changes for CHS student

Julie Cole | Jun 4, 2013
Erik Lillico playing the role of the Cowardly Lion in the CHS dessert theatre. Submitted photo by Fiona Graham. Erik Lillico playing the role of the Cowardly Lion in the CHS dessert theatre. Submitted photo by Fiona Graham.Erik Lillico playing the role of the Cowardly Lion in the CHS dessert theatre. Submitted photo by Fiona Graham.
Erik Lillico playing the role of the Cowardly Lion in the CHS dessert theatre. Submitted photo by Fiona Graham. Erik Lillico playing the role of the Cowardly Lion in the CHS dessert theatre. Submitted photo by Fiona Graham.Erik Lillico credits his choir professor Scott Finch for making a huge impact on his life. Submitted photo by Rob Schellenberg.

Erik Lillico found his passion for music and drama at Caronport High School. The personal changes that have come from that discovery are no act.

Lillico admits his early school experiences made him one of the least likely candidates to take to the stage.

“When I was in Grade 2 I had asthma, I had a speech disorder,” he explained. “I was tongue-tied, so I was bullied quite a bit.”

Although surgery and medical treatment helped Lillico to get rid of his asthma and speech impediment, the impact of bullying left a mark that wasn’t as quickly treated.

“I think the thing that just bugged me that I’m still dealing with is the psychological stuff about being bullied, so that’s dealing with the self-image,” he shared.

The Grade 11 student has found that his music and drama experiences at CHS are helping to heal the hurts that bullying left behind.

“It’s really helped me just being able to get rid of those bad memories of being bullied and being able to be the person I want to be – to go on stage and perform in front of tons of people,” he said.

Performing with the CHS choir at Briercrest’s 2010 Christmas Celebration made a big impact on Lillico.

“We performed in front of 7,000 people,” he exclaimed.

From that point on, Lillico has taken part in several CHS drama and choir productions. In this year’s dessert theatre production of The Wizard of Oz, Lillico was cast in the role as the cowardly lion. Much like that character, Lillico has also found the ability to leave his fear behind and embrace the boldness to step out and share who he is with others.

He gives his choir teacher, Scott Finch, much of the credit for that transformation.

“He taught us all how to get out of our comfort zones and use the gifts God gave us,” Lillico explained. “I think he’s a big reason I’ve become the person I am.”

Finch also appreciates the role Lillico has played in the choir.

“It has been a delight to witness the tremendous growth of Erik – especially in the CHS choir,” he said. “His eagerness, faithfulness, and concern for others have been conspicuous character traits that have been of deep encouragement to our school. Whether it involves setting up chairs, loading risers, acting onstage, dedication to his family or listening well to others – Erik’s commitment to serving is always on display. I have valued his contributions to our community and look forward to seeing his impact for Christ in the future bearing a fruitful harvest.”

The Grade 11 student sees drama continuing in his life after high school.

“My plan is to go to a university,” he explained. “I think what I might do is try to become a teacher, like maybe a drama teacher and still pursue an acting career.”

Lillico says he is in awe when he looks back at his rough start in elementary school and considers where he is now at CHS.

“CHS is just kind of the ending point from where I was,” he said. “I just keep imagining if I could go back and tell myself what (I’d be doing) right now, I wouldn’t believe it. It’s changed me so much.”

Lillico also credits his mom and his faith for the positive changes in his life.

“When I was bullied (Mom) always told me that God loved me and that I was special and I could do it,” he said. “I have to thank God because without Him I don’t think I would be here right now. I don’t know where I’d be.”