Kimberly Staples started the now-acclaimed Buford theatre program, the staple — no pun intended — of the school’s performing arts’ department.

After a slew of state titles and successful musical productions, Staples is moving on from the high school level of work. She served as a part-time colleague throughout the most-recent school year and mentored first-year theatre director Leila Bowman. Staples has worked in grade school for 40-plus years.

“Time to graduate, right?” she said.

Last week, students of past and present, faculty and family members gathered at Buford High School to celebrate her full retirement as Staples moves onto another chapter. Beginning in the fall of 2024, Staples will serve on staff at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. She will also become an educational advisor at The Peace Center in Greenville, S.C.

As shown by the ceremony performance finale of “For Good” from the musical Wicked, Staples had a bold influence within Buford’s program and throughout the community.

Bowman remembers one of the first interactions with Staples. Into the Woods carries a mutual affinity between them. Bowman first performed in it as an eighth grader in the Georgia Junior Thespian All-State Show as Cinderella. Staples showed how important Bowman became to her by creating a scrapbook about the show, including stickers that Staples had purchased from the show’s Broadway production in New York City. Bowman “beamed” with joy, she said, upon receiving the gift.

The second involvement of Into the Woods came in Bowman’s senior year of high school, 2016-17. That rendition solidified Bowman’s love for directing and allowed her to receive a scholarship to a school of her choice. The most-recent showing, earlier this school year, allowed everything to come full-circle. Bowman led a production of Into the Woods for her advanced musical class in the fall. Bowman pulled the ropes, but had Staples by her side to advise as Bowman left her own imprint on the program.

“Her tutelage has been insurmountable to my success and this program,” Bowman said. “I’m forever thankful for every opportunity to learn alongside her.”

Last week’s ceremony involved performances, heartfelt goodbyes and the passing on of the Kimberly Staples Theatre Achievement Scholarship. Lizzie Patchen received the honor for the 2023-24 school year.

Here’s a gallery of the ceremony to illustrate Staples’ influence on the Buford arts’ community.

Buford graduate Brayan Sepulveda poses with Staples.
Buford graduate Mackenzie Staples poses with parents.
From L to R: Megan Daniels, Aubrey Daniels, Staples, Kaylyn Beverly
Leila Bowman passes on scholarship plaque to Staples.
Students perform at Buford’s Performing Arts Center for Staples.
Lizzie Patchen receives scholarship from Staples.

FEATURED PHOTO: From L to R: Bridget Wildes, Ashley Smith, Kimberly Staples, Leila Bowman

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