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The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Theater director “Betsy” Cornwell’s death shocks student body

On+August+13%2C+the+Bowie+campus+was+told+that+theater+director+Diane+%E2%80%9CBetsy%E2%80%9D+Cornwell+had+passed+away.+Cornwell+worked+in+Austin+ISD+for+more+than+40+years+and+spent+more+than+30+of+those+years+at+Bowie.
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On August 13, the Bowie campus was told that theater director Diane “Betsy” Cornwell had passed away. Cornwell worked in Austin ISD for more than 40 years and spent more than 30 of those years at Bowie.

On August 13, the Bowie campus was told that theater director Diane “Betsy” Cornwell had passed away.

“We found out on the first day of school and everyone was very much shocked,” senior Starlight Theatre Company (STC) member Brighton Toland said. “There was obviously a lot of people who were upset because she was our teacher for years for many of us.”

Cornwell worked in Austin ISD for more than 40 years and spent more than 30 of those years at Bowie. Many of the plays Cornwell produced as part of the STC won UIL awards at all levels for theatrical excellence.

“The fact that Ms.Cornwell was a constant in the theater department at Bowie since the school opened. Just by the nature of time, it has an impact that is significant,” Principal Mark Robinson said. “Ms. Cornwall’s legacy with the Bowie Theatre Department will always be as the creator of the Starlight Theatre.”

While being a theater director, Cornwell produced more than 1,000 shows and many of her students have gone on to star on Broadway or to pursue careers related to theater like television.

“The most important thing is that we continue to provide theater education as a way for students to express themselves as a creative outlet,” Robinson said. “So, it will be important that those doors continue to stay open to our students as long as Bowie is here.”

With her death, the school has hired a new theater teacher, who comes into a historically rich program and a new state-of-the-art theater building.

“There is a history with that program that the current teaching staff will have to pick up and carry forward in a way that honors her memory and purpose as an educator,” Robinson said.

A week after students and staff learned of her death, a memorial was held in the Bowie Theater.

“The moment that was most impactful to me was a former student walking on stage and delivering a full monologue from Midsummer Night’s Dream,” STC senior co-president Finn Alexander said. “They then tied that in with their performance background and how that was shaped by their time at Bowie,”

Counselors and teachers at Bowie have made themselves available to help students who are grieving.

“The counselors have opened all their doors for us, which is very encouraging,” Toland said. “And obviously  theater officers are always open to talk to people.”

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