Dressed in pink with her hair curled, Berklee Child was the spitting image of Elle Woods in the Regional Theater of the Palouse's production of "Legally Blonde" in February.

She said as soon as the RTOP announced what shows they would be producing in 2018, she started practicing her audition song - eight months in advance.

"I was ridiculously nervous," she said, adding that the part of Elle Woods was the first lead role she had ever auditioned for.

Child said the waiting process to hear if she even got a call back was long and anxious.

"I was checking every five minutes," she said, "I was actually on a boat coming back from touring the University of Victoria when I found out."

Child said theater productions are a family affair. Her younger sister is currently cast in "Fiddler on the Roof," which will premiere in May, and her dad helps with building the sets. Both sisters have choreographed past productions as well.

Child said her favorite part about being involved with the theater is the amount of effort the cast and crew put into the productions.

"It's a lot of blood, sweat and tears because you care so much about the whole production. Preparing for it is so tiring because you have to give it your all; we do like 11 shows, so you have to go all out," she said.

Child also played an orphan in the production of "Annie" in August 2011, and she was cast in "Oliver" a year later.

It was partially due to those productions - which involved so many youth - that Child discovered the career path she plans to pursue.

Currently a senior at Pullman High School, Child said she plans to attend Western Washington University in the fall with the hope of one day becoming an elementary school teacher.

She said while some teachers find their niché teaching a specific subject, she has already found a passion in providing structure for students who are less fortunate and do not have stable home environments.

She said she has already made an effort to help students at Pullman High School and in the broader community.

Child said the elementary schools and the middle school in Pullman have implemented a free lunch program where volunteers pack brown bag lunches on Fridays for students who do not know where their next meal is going to come from.

Child said the middle school regularly provides free lunches to 30 students.

She said the idea of starting the same program at Pullman High School was born in her leadership class, and she recently stepped up to lead the effort.

She said the YMCA, where she works after school and as a camp counselor during the summer, has a similar free lunch program, so she already knew the basics.

"We've only done it once," she said, "and there were only two students."

But Child said her hope is that over time, her fellow students will become more aware of the opportunity and the lunch program will be able to help more students.

"I think its really important to look past differences," she said, adding everyone could benefit from being just a little nicer to each other.

Katie Short can be reached at (208) 883-4633, or by email to kshort@dnews.com.

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