Tuesday, May 3, 2011


What:  drama with 54 students, ages 6-12, with little or no experience
Where:  Highlands Elementary School gym
When:  between MAP and MCA testing, and teaching all the usual language arts, science, social studies, math, and reading
Why: to extend the learning to include storytelling, humor, cooperation, flexibility, resourcefulness, perseverance, poise and confidence
Who wants that job?

The cast of Once Upon a Shoe

 Our “Continuous Progress” classroom family has a tradition of producing a spring play. This year, the play was Once Upon a Shoe, a collection of Mother Goose skits. Each year, the two teachers select a play that fits the personality of the class, and they adapt it so that all of the students can participate. As nerve-stretching as it may be to cut enthusiastic students during typical play tryouts, it may not compare to the requirement of casting every student from two connected classrooms that encompass five grades. Younger students pay their dues as snowflakes and carrots, while the older students play the pivotal roles like Mother Goose or Gary Grinkle. (In last year’s play, he had a problem with wrinkles.)

This year, like every year, it was a labor of love, and a lot of work. The two teachers put in hours and hours of their own time. Parents procured gigantic cardboard slabs for the set and sewed costumes. Students painted and created props. The music teacher volunteered her song-adapting services. The working budget was a mind-boggling $0.00. 

Herb Brooks claimed that even Olympic gold couldn’t compare with that early thrill of the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament. A lead role on Broadway could not bring my daughter more euphoria than riding in the minivan over to Highlands to play a little pig.  I see her point.  Anyone can put on a show with actual actors.  It’s another thing to make confident actors out of kids--some who wouldn't normally want to be on stage or who speak in a whisper as their playground voice.

The critics are kind.  Six relatives may be on hand to see the smiling broccoli flourish in the garden. Much like this parent, I’m so grateful that someone thought, “Hey, we can find a play with 54 parts and make some sets and costumes and learn all the parts and do all the rehearsals in between all our other learning.  Why not?”  Thanks to those teachers who took on the challenge. They created a lasting memory for our families. 


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