He’s no ordinary Beast.
He’s certainly not your typical high school student.
Sharon High School senior Rick Hale has worn many different hats and costumes throughout his years in the school district.
“I’m thankful for the foundation Sharon has given me,” Rick said. “I feel very prepared.”
Rick will take his final bow as a high-schooler on stage as the Beast in the spring musical production on April 10, 11 and 12 of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Disney shows are a category all their own,” Rick said. “They’re so unique in their way, their timelessness. Everyone can enjoy it.”
Rick describes his progression through the musicals noting the great responsibility he has a senior.
“Kids don’t realize how much of an impression they make,” Rick said, referring to the older kids. “I used to look up to the seniors, I want kids to say, ‘I want to be like Rick Hale.’”
Being Rick Hale is no ordinary feat.
“He is extremely hardworking and I think he gives every free minute he has to the music things,” Frank McCauley, music director, said. “He is legitimately working constantly.”
Rick’s first experience in a high school musical was in the eighth grade as part of the ensemble in “Guys and Dolls.” The following years he was the narrator for “Into the Woods,” and Horton the elephant in “Seussical.” Then, he took on the wide range of vocals required for the role of Marius in “Les Miserables” last year.
McCauley said Rick has a way of fitting each role really well, but his personality is very similar to Horton’s.
“Always positive, happy, in a good mood, very calm,” McCauley said. “Very hardworking and still fun. He enjoys it.”
McCauley said Rick learns about 125 pieces of music a year if you add in his involvement in the school choirs and competitions.
Rick made it to the state finals in chorus for the past three years and is hoping to make it into the next level in the All-Eastern Choir.
Last year, he was part of the All-Eastern Choir of about 350 high school kids from the 13 Eastern states.
Walking through halls at Sharon Middle High School, you would be hard pressed to find one person who doesn’t know him.
In addition to spending each extra minute he has in the choir room, Rick led his class through their sophomore, junior and senior years as class president. He’s served as a student representative at school board meetings to keep school officials up to date on the status of every club, sport, or activity going on at the school.
“We’ve had him from the beginning. He’s respectful and nice to everyone,” Case Avenue Elementary School principal Traci Valentino said, proudly. “He’s who he is because of good parenting.”
Rick also credits his mother, Karen Winner Sed, for his success.
“Mom taught me to be a gentleman,” Rick said. “She always told me ‘create your own life.’”
He said they are the kind of people who danced around the kitchen to the rock band, Queen.
“I’m trying to soak in every last everything of his,” Winner Sed beamed at her son. “It goes really fast. Before you know it, it’s senior year.”
Both Rick and his mother sang high praises for Sharon schools.
“Sharon has been a unique experience,” Rick said. “The teachers really care. They love what they do.”
“Rick’s mom said she gives credit to Case’s former principal, Bill Dunsmore, who nominated her son for the student ambassador program, People to People.
Through this program, Rick has traveled to several countries from the spring of his sixth grade year through the summer after his freshman year in high school.
Rick explained the program as being dropped into another country to live for months at a time.
“I learned tolerance,” Rick said. “I realized how similar we all are. You get there and see people doing the same things – going to work, going to school.”
Rick said the student ambassador program has taken him to England, France, Belgium, Australia, and a number of other countries.
The program was the brainchild of President Dwight D. Eisenhower with the idea that by bringing children together to study the other countries’ history in this way would make them less likely to go to war.
His most memorable moment with People to People was at the Great Wall of China in 2008.
“I remember just standing there and looking. It has such a rich countryside and history,” Rick said. “I learned the most from this trip. Whatever you thought before, it completely turns it on its head.”
He also reminisced about the trip to China he took with his grandfather when he was 12.
His grandfather asked him to give an impromptu speech to a crowd of about 1,300 on China through a child’s eyes.
He remembers telling the crowd, “Both (China and the U.S.) have the power to annihilate – but to what end?”
Through all of Rick’s travels and his long list of after school activities, he has managed to stay on the honor roll.
Rick said there are so many incredible things he will miss about Sharon High School when he graduates.
“We’re a family. We’re very close knit,” he said. “It’s hard to move away from.”
He called the kids in the music programs a family within the Sharon family.
McCauley hopes he will have another “Rick” to step up next year.
“With him fostering the other students he’s setting an example and leading the kids,” McCauley said. “They recognize this achievement that he’s always worked really hard for what he’s got.”
Rick said he would like to pursue a career in engineering or finance. He sees himself in business.
He said he would even sing if that’s what God wants him to do.
“If it’s meant to be,” Rick said. “I’m a big believer in that.”