SCHOOLS: RUSSELL BOULEVARD
By ANN ELISE TAYLOR
First-graders swarmed the stage inside Russell Boulevard Elementary School Friday afternoon, April 22.
A blue backdrop on the far wall, made by the children onstage, was painted with flowers, birds and a large, red ladybug. Parents snapped pictures and waved at their sons and daughters. The children, who wore pink paper hats shaped like pigs’ faces, squirmed and chattered, weaving among one another to find their assigned places on the bleachers at either side of the stage.
A piano sounded, and the show began.
It was the first-grade class’ annual musical, the “Three Piggy Opera.” The show, based on the story of the three little pigs, gave the children a chance to experience a more creative side of schooling through exploration of theater and song.
About halfway through the show, first-grader Riley Damron walked to a microphone placed center-stage. Leaning forward, she delivered her one line: “The second little pig built its house out of sticks.”
She shuffle back to her spot on the bleachers.
“That was Riley,” Jeanne Damron, Riley’s mother said, pointing at her daughter and smiling. Riley has enjoyed being able to participate in the play, Damron said.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for her,” she said. “My daughter is so excited about being an actress.”
Riley’s father, Daryl Damron, said he appreciated his daughter being able to learn about music and storytelling.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “Riley has been talking about it some. She’s been practicing her lines with her sister.”
Russell Boulevard first-grade teacher Jenny Howard said her students have been practicing for the play since the beginning of April.
“They love it,” Howard said. “Some kids really, really like it. They love the performance part. The practice part can be kind of tricky.”
The benefits of being in a play go beyond students having fun, Howard said.
“We have to teach oral language skills here, so it’s a great time to do that,” Howard said. “It teaches them to speak clearly, make eye contact and speak slowly. It also gives the kids who aren’t as strong in academics a chance to shine.”
Riley said she liked learning new songs, although she was anxious about the performance.
“I was kind of nervous because we howl,” Riley said. “A lot of people laughed, but I didn’t think it was that funny.”
Howard said she thought the play turned out well and enjoyed the sense of community that it created.
“I think it’s great because it gives the first grade a chance to get together and do something in a group,” Howard said. “That is always fun.”