VISTA — Mackenzie Scott quite literally grew up in Rancho Buena Vista High School’s theater.
As a three-year-old, she painted shapes in the corner while her father, Mark Scott, directed plays and musicals, before graduating from the school’s same performing arts program years later.
Today, Mackenzie, 23, has returned to Rancho Buena Vista to carry on her father’s 30-year legacy as the school’s beloved drama teacher.
Mark Scott started teaching drama at the Vista high school in 1989. Over three decades, Mark built up the program to be one of the best in the state, demonstrating that even the smallest school can produce an award-winning show.
“What was so funny was that over the years as we started going to these competitions, we were winning quite a bit against all of these other kids who had extensive theater training,” Mark said.
Mackenzie followed her father to rehearsals and performances, developing a deep love for theater at an early age.
“I grew up on the floor here, babysat by high schoolers,” Mackenzie said. “This is my second home.”
Mackenzie’s respect for her father only grew over the years as she watched him leave an indelible impression at the school. After witnessing her father’s success, she wanted to impact others just like her father had for countless students.
“The way he communicated and received so much respect and love made me want to be respected,” Mackenzie said. “I want to be loved, and I want knowledge and to share the knowledge and to impart wisdom and love to those who sometimes don’t always receive love.”
Rancho Buena Vista’s theater program welcomes everyone regardless of their background, who they love or what they look like.
“They came here because it was a safe place,” Mark said. “We often refer to the drama room as a sanctuary — if you’re out amongst the quad dwellers and you feel threatened, if you need a Band-Aid or a dollar, you come in here.”
Mark started a drama program at Madison Middle School and Mackenzie officially became her father’s student. For seven years through middle and high school, Mackenzie and her fellow drama partners learned theater from Mark.
After graduating from Rancho Buena Vista and her father’s drama program in 2016, Mackenzie went to study theater at Hofstra University in New York. She had several opportunities lined up for her upon graduation until the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
With the pandemic in full swing, Mackenzie packed up her things, rented a car and drove across the country back home. Mark retired the following year and the school’s drama program was under new leadership.
At her father’s suggestion, in 2020, Mackenzie began working as a stage tech teacher at the school while taking online courses to earn her teaching credentials. During that time, she also worked as a student-teacher for early high school English.
“I was doing homework along with my students who I was assigning and grading homework for,” Mackenzie said.
Once completing her credential, she applied for the open drama teacher position there. She got the part.
Just a few months in and Mackenzie has already proven herself as a perfect fit. She completely reorganized the program’s costumes, props and other equipment, and carries on her father’s strong theater tradition.
“She’s resurrected the program,” Mark said. “This program was on life support.”
Though her group is small and mostly consists of underclassmen, they are a passionate bunch and every one of them wants to be there. Even the drama boosters are thrilled about having Mackenzie Scott take over after her father.
“Mackenzie is following in her father’s footsteps,” said Marie Hayes, a drama booster member. “She’s doing a fabulous job, not just with the production aspects but also with her maturity, wisdom and care for the students.”
For Mark, seeing his daughter take over the very same stage where he spent hours with students rehearsing scenes and practicing songs is the ultimate legacy.
“I enjoyed my time here and it just does my heart a great service to know that my daughter has now taken the reins of this horse that I so dearly loved,” Mark said. “She’s doing incredible work and I’m just really proud of her.”