Students Exercise First Amendment Right at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora

Open letter to the media:

Though you may not consider it as ratings worthy as the student walk-outs in JeffCo, you may want to keep an eye on a situation happening at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora (Cherry Creek School District). Watch #TeamNeil on Twitter.

Students, parents, alumni, and peers are assembling in the school theater at 3:00 p.m. today to discuss the events that led up to their highly respected teacher/director’s (Neil Truglio) absence from the closing show Saturday night.

The school principal, Gwen Hansen-Vigil, told them that it was Neil’s choice not to be there. While there’s a chance that Truglio would make a statement in this way, no one who knows how much his students mean to him can believe he would miss closing night.

I emailed the principal this morning for facts and have not yet received a reply. I spoke with Danielle Daugherty, Dean of Students, on the phone this morning as well, and she told me she did not have any information on the situation.

Neil Truglio is known for pushing boundaries to produce great shows at Eaglecrest. Their production of Frankenstein was chosen to be performed at the state Thespian Conference last year. The school district always inspects the sets and had approved the use of hydraulics in their recent play, Alice in Wonderland, provided that no one was on the equipment or set piece while in motion. The day the play was to open, the district told Truglio that he could not use the hydraulics at all.

Students fear that Neil has been suspended and feel that would be unjust. In support of their teacher, they are exercising their right to peaceful assembly to discuss the issue, many wearing clothing expressing their support of their beloved teacher. They fear that the school administration wants Truglio gone because his innovative mind is too much for them to deal with (aka: he doesn’t subscribe to cookie cutter ways).

Neil Truglio, an actor himself, is a stellar acting and theater teacher. The safety and well-being of his students is paramount to him. He has been an inspiration to many and has pushed Eaglecrest’s theater department to a level of excellence. His departure, should it come to that, would be devastating to his students.

Giving this story media attention would highlight the compassionate hearts of the students exercising their First Amendment rights.

*** Update and full timeline of events here *** 

Please read through all of the interesting comments below. I took the time to reply to each one. I’ve also added new comment with my own thoughts since a year has now passed.

The Truglio Way

21 Replies to “Students Exercise First Amendment Right at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora”

  1. Since the dust has settled on this, I know that there is more to the entire situation than anyone has taken the time to thoroughly explain. Perhaps they aren’t allowed to (privacy / district policy / what-have-you). I recognize and respect that this is in the past. Things change in life … ALWAYS. Many times we just have to suck it up and move on.

    EHS put on some amazing performances under Neil’s direction. Some were a bit dark and “out there”. When you consider that the audiences of high school productions will naturally include younger siblings, is this always a good thing? Maybe not. I LOVED Frankenstein! Don’t get me wrong! Not so much for a younger audience, though. Tommy? Bizarre … not my favorite … and clearly above the understanding of younger audiences.

    What I don’t understand is the abandonment of many very talented students upon the appointment of a new theater director, Jennifer Condreay, who has a masters degree in Theatre. One of her former students is Andy Kelso (Broadway actor:!bio/c240r ) right here at Eaglecrest! Parents are supporting and even encouraging this behavior in their children. My support ended at exercising their 1st Amendment right to peaceably assemble. I do not support the apparent lack of respect to a new teacher.


  2. I approved and replied to a comment that isn’t displaying for some reason…

    Carol – Submitted on 2014/10/15 at 8:50 am
    Your suspicion of the principal is a bit presuming. I know her personally, and she is a wonderful woman who will stop at nothing to do the best thing for her students. She is in a difficult position as the principal and has to try to please not only her superiors in the district, but also the teachers beneath her while looking out for her students. Please do not assume that because she was “backpedaling” she was trying to hide something – for all you know, she was making sure she was saying the truth as wholly as she could without discussing confidential information that is between only her and the theater teacher.

    My reply:
    Submitted on 2014/10/15 at 7:29 pm | In reply to Carol.
    Of course I understand her position, and I don’t doubt that she was putting safety first. There must have been a lot she couldn’t say because she repeated herself several times (perhaps back pedalling was the wrong term). Again, I have the entire speech recorded. Clearly, the entire situation escalated rapidly due to miscommunication along the way, and a resolution was required fast. Things definitely need to change – better timelines and more structure for starters. Clear and concise inspection reports going forward are a must, too.


  3. I’m not going to pretend like I know exactly what has happened here. I could honestly care less WHO it was, but I am astounded reading all of these well crafted negative comments. Moreover, it never ceases to amaze me the conversations that these kind of blog posts spark. I am a former student of Eaglecrest, I graduated last year and Neil was a teacher and theater producer for several years while I attended. I did not get the chance to be his student, but I can say that this is not an issue about Neil as a teacher at all. I like Neil and a lot of what he stands for, despite his relationship with some of the individuals of administration. We need to stop ignoring the fact that some things that we deem as unfair happen behind closed doors and we also need to stop getting upset with the kids for seeing that something very convoluted and very likely unfair has happened. The politics surrounding this school are legendary, I will not dispute that fact, as somebody above said, “Nobody cared when the kid who was bullied got expelled because he actually fought back, but they sure do care when an unprofessional and undisciplined teacher gets suspended. There are plenty of other things that need to be addressed at this ridiculous school.” While I will not make statements about Truglio, of course this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Going to this school I know that Neil has a lot of momentum and support behind him. That momentum is one thing that always needs to be considered when looking at why an issue has so much attention despite what SHOULD be protested. There are plenty of things that infuriate me about how the CCSD and Eaglecrest specifically handles things, the No Tolerance policies being just one. While Neil has always been one to push the boundaries of the Board (and I really do mean push the boundaries), if the concern for some is the safety of the students I will point out for you all who cannot read above that Neil did go through all of the necessary preparatory work before all of his shows. He does everything with the utmost concern for safety. I can also tell you that I am not at all surprised that the Board would refuse to answer any questions regarding what has happened. And plainly, if your issue is the idea of high school students using their free speech then you have some deeper seeded issues that you need to get resolved. Not every high school student is “crying for attention,” nor do they take sides so blindly. Many students are very intelligent people, and much wiser than many adults that I have met who “jump the bandwagon”.


  4. Kids obviously don’t have anything smart to say or do with freedom of speech


    1. Thank you for your input. I’m so sorry you feel this way. These kids range in age from 14-18 and are very intelligent people. They most certainly know about our Constitution. Thankfully, they ignore opinions like yours and make their voices heard. There are too many who clam up because of such comments making them feel inadequate or not smart enough to have a say in this world. They are our future.


      1. Hmm, funny, I attend this school as well, and I’d be confident in saying that over half of the people involved with this “protest” didn’t even know who Truglio was before this dispute. He is actually one of my teachers at this school (video productions class) and I completely disagree with this nonsense. He was SUSPENDED, and all of a sudden every kid and their Grandma felt that it was unjust. Nobody cared when the kid who was bullied got expelled because he actually fought back, but they sure do care when an unprofessional and undisciplined teacher gets suspended. There are plenty of other things that need to be addressed at this ridiculous school. Did these kids REALLY think that this whole dispute wouldn’t get sorted out..?


      2. David Koresh is an interesting pseudonym choice for someone so against a group of students and parents banding together to back someone they believe in. Like all political movements, not everyone is going to agree with the basis behind it or even the need for it. The beauty of our country is, though, that we have the freedom and the right to speak out. Sure, it probably would have been sorted out, but their voices may (or may not) have made a difference in how fast that happened. So you didn’t think it was necessary. That’s your prerogative. Obviously, they felt strongly enough to take the action they took. That’s THEIR prerogative.


  5. This is honestly getting ridiculous. These kids need to chill out and stop crying for attention. All this is is a new bandwagon.


    1. “If children were to be seen and not heard, wouldn’t it be a sad world?” This was not just a cry for attention. They conducted themselves with decorum. They exercised a constitutional right, and they did so admirably. They didn’t ask for media attention. I did that through my blog post. Of course, you be satisfied to learn, there was no media attention in the end.


  6. I don’t think this deserves any media attention at all. IMO. He they didn’t want him to use equipment wow.


  7. I’m sorry but I’m calling complete bull shit on this whole thing. Someone very close to me was a student of Mr. Truglio when she was a student at Eaglecrest. I will never forget the times she would come home near tears because Mr. Truglio was harassing her and saying extremely unfair things to her about her acting skills. The man shouldn’t even be at EHS. The man doesn’t have a teaching license and his expectations are far too high for HS students. He may be a good actor, as students may like him, but he needs to go and stay gone. I’m sure his replacement will be just as good. If he uses set pieces that are deemed unsafe, he is putting his students in danger. High school isn’t Broadway.


    1. This is the dumbest thing I have ever read. This would be just like you saying that the football team isn’t in the NFL so a shitty coach will work… The best are trained by the best and this is spread from not only sports but to places like the theater as well. High school is the start to a child’s thoughts on what they want to do when they are older. Many of them may want to go to Broadway and a teacher like this sounds like the perfect teacher to lead them there.


      1. Interesting delivery … I admire the support of a passionate and charismatic actor with the drive and desire to share his wisdom and grand ideas with our youth (possible future great actors themselves). Lauren was correct in saying “high school isn’t Broadway”, but they can certainly dream! With a track record of some amazing shows in recent years, it’s going to be different with a new teacher for sure. However, I don’t think it’s fair to turn our backs on her and not give her a chance.


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