University Community

Ohio Eastern graduate brings laughter, community to campus with improv showcase

On April 8, Ohio University Eastern will be transformed into a hub of laughter and creativity, courtesy of OHIO Eastern alumnus Kody Starkey.

Starkey, a special education aide at St. Clairsville Schools, is gearing up to host the St. Clairsville Middle School Improv Showcase, "The Chaotic Creators." Designed specifically for families and kids, the Improv Showcase is inspired by the TV show "Whose Line is It Anyway.”  The event guarantees an evening filled with spontaneous humor and boundless fun, all while nurturing a strong sense of community engagement.

Starkey graduated from OHIO Eastern with a bachelor's in communications and reflects fondly on his time at Ohio University. He recalls the meaningful relationships he forged with professors, mentors and fellow students.

"Education is crucial, but relationships are equally important," he said. "My professors played a significant role in my growth and instilled a sense of responsibility in me." These influential connections have persisted beyond graduation, motivating Starkey to spearhead projects aimed at fostering creativity and collaboration.

Starkey's communications degree has been instrumental in his work with middle schoolers, particularly in the realm of improv. When asked about the benefits of improv for young students' communication skills, Starkey highlighted the alignment between his academic background and his current role.

“Improv builds skills in quick thinking, confidence in awkward or new situations and how to trust your process when allowing yourself to be free and cultivate your own path,” he said.

For Starkey, events like the Improv Showcase show how important culture is for the campus. "And it allows for community connection,” he said. By bringing together students and families in a lighthearted atmosphere, the event not only entertains but also strengthens the bonds within the community.

In preparation for the showcase, Starkey advises middle school students to embrace their creativity and authenticity.

“Improv is fun and entertaining, but getting on stage and performing for a group of people shows that, even though we may be nervous, we are determined to stand up and be our own person,” he said. Through structured yet playful warm-up activities, Starkey helps students find their voice and develop essential communication skills, all while having a blast on stage.

The benefits of improv extend beyond the spotlight, contributing to the development of a sense of camaraderie among students.

"Humor is a great bridge builder," Starkey explains. "When we can share a laugh and a smile together, as a group, we become connected." By fostering an environment where students support each other and work as a team, the Improv Showcase exemplifies the power of collaboration and positive communication.

“The connection we make shows that no matter what our personality is, positive communication is possible when we are confident and determined,” he said.

As the event approaches, Starkey reflects on his journey and offers advice to current students and recent graduates of Ohio University.

"Never deny yourself a chance to grow and learn from your mistakes," he advises. "Get involved in something that moves your heart and soul." With enthusiasm and passion, Starkey continues to uplift his community, embodying the spirit of creativity, connection, and camaraderie.

The Improv Showcase with The Chaotic Creators is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on April 8, at the Ohio University Eastern Theater. Admission is free, with donations accepted to support future creative initiatives. Prepare to laugh, connect, and celebrate the joy of improvisation with Starkey and his talented troupe.

March 26, 2024
Staff reports