Joel Hernandez and Nathaniel Hicks, Technical Theater director


Joel Hernandez, a junior at Lufkin High School, is passionate about theater, even though he’s never stepped foot on the stage in an acting role.

“I am in technical theater,” Hernandez said. “I help with sound and the construction tech group. This is my sixth year, counting middle school theater classes.”

Even though he plays a more ‘behind-the-scenes’ role, Hernandez wants the world to know how important theater is to students. He even emailed the mayor about signing a proclamation to declare the month of March ‘Theater in the Schools’ month.

“I wanted to bring awareness to theater education and the importance of theater—skills and passions that I think are involved with theater, like communication, team building, and teamwork,” Hernandez said. “I think these are essential skills that students should have access to, and the theater program is available to everyone.”

He saw a message on Instagram from the Texas Thespian group that was posted in February about getting proclamations.

“The posting said to get your proclamations in early,” Hernandez said. “I thought, ‘That sounds interesting.’ That would be really cool here in Lufkin.”

According to Hernandez’s teacher, technical theater director Nathaniel Hicks, Joel pursued the proclamation on his own, and he’s going to be missed when he graduates next year.

“He is one of the few that really does go above and beyond,” Hicks said. “He comes up with ideas that I haven’t thought of and even better ideas that are effective and less costly. It’s really nice to have dedicated students with that passion.”

Hicks, who teaches technical theater, is using his audio production background to show that tech theater is an option—a lot of behind-the-scenes work that’s more fun.

“It meshes with my background but this is my first school job,” Hicks said. “I use my degree and teach what I’ve learned from a non-traditional background. It’s been a journey working in education. I want to students to see something different.”

As head of PR and Marketing for the Lufkin High School Thespian Club, Hernandez said a proclamation would be a cool way to spread awareness that theater can be for everyone.

“I think it’s a space where you can grow and get to know one another,” he said. “Right now, we’re not getting a lot of new theater students. I want to let students know that theater is available to them.”

Hernandez would like to attend Stephen F. Austin State University or the University of Houston and major in technical theater.

Currently, Hernandez is working on sound for the next big performance, The Giver, which will be for UIL competition.

In his spare time, he owns a small business creating custom apparel, office supplies, mugs, etc., called Pre 1 Custom Co. He’s even used his design skills to create show posters for the plays.

In the proclamation, it states that theater creates self-confidence, which is evident in the young entrepreneur, theater advocate, marketing, sound, and construction tech guy that is Joel Hernandez.