Wednesday, October 22, 2014

‘Peter Pan’ musical lauded by board

Sturgeon Creek School was awarded the Rainy River District School Board’s monthly Recognition of Excellence during its regular meeting last week after staff there revived a long-standing tradition of musical productions with the presentation of “Peter Pan” back in March.
“It took a great deal of planning,” admitted principal Kendall Olsen. “And I never envisioned the scale it would take on.”

Teacher Kim Walter said the inception of the musical came last fall as it was perceived that there was a need for students to have greater opportunities to participate in the arts at the school level.
“We do so well at all the other aspects, what was missing was the students’ engagement in the arts,” she explained, noting they incorporated as many Grades 3-8 students as they could in the production.
In total, 43 students were eager to be involved as they volunteered to give up a number of recess breaks each week to practice, and later to do after-school rehearsals.
“The aim was also for the students to build some life skills,” Walter added, citing leadership, responsibility, and teamwork.
“And for many students, it was the first time they had been involved in the arts,” said Walter, noting “Peter Pan” was chosen for its familiar story, catchy songs, and the opportunity to allow many students to shine.
Teacher Krista Williams said the production brought high levels of parent and community involvement, and increased student engagement and self-esteem.
“Right from the beginning, it was evident the students took real ownership,” she remarked.
“And the parents spent many hours helping,” Williams added. “It meant so much to the students to have their parents involved.”
While the initial response for volunteers was good, with a dozen parents showing up, no one anticipated that more than 40 volunteers would be recruited before the play was completed, she noted.
As well, the community offered donations of time and material to help with the props and set.
Williams and Walter said teams were created to assist with costuming and set and prop design, but these groups took on a life of their own as evening and weekends became a buzz of activity.
In the end, every character had an authentic costume and the set was elaborate, featuring a full pull-out pirate ship with foredeck, mast, and sails.
They noted the native encampment was complete with teepees and birch bark canoes, the nursery was decorated with a rocking horse theme, and the forest featured a reversible rock and tree root hideout while the mermaids played by a waterfalls.
Layers of light and sound engineering were added with expert help and equipment, they added.
But both stressed it was the students who were the front and centre of the production.
“Their dedication to practising and perfecting their roles was evident from the beginning,” Walter explained, saying the greatest joy of the production was to see how students rose to the occasion and put on performances that exceeded everyone’s expectations—even their own.
“It was a successful production because of the help of so many,” Williams enthused.
Student Sekina Scheibler, who played “Captain Hook,” said he enjoyed dressing up and improving his public speaking.
He accepted the “Recognition of Excellence” from board chair Michael Lewis.

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