Students at McKinley Elementary School in Ham Lake will stage “Peter Pan,” May 4 at 7 p.m. and May 5 at 11 a.m. Both performances are free and open to the public.
Lisa Jones, director, approached Principal Mark VanVoorhis about students putting on a play when she was president of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). He gave the go ahead and last year students did “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The response was positive, so it was decided to do another play this year.
Jones, Shelly Mellem and Kim Reinke selected “Peter Pan” for this year’s production. Open to third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students, all 24 students who auditioned have a part in the play. A number of family members are volunteering to help with the set, costumes and the many other activities that are part of making the event a success. The students have been practicing the play for an hour a week since February.
For Jones, taking part in plays is fun. As an actor she’s had bit parts in plays and putting on a play is something Jones has done as part of a neighborhood. There are many reasons she thinks that being involved in a production is a good experience for students.
“Being in a play brings a story to life for kids and I think it helps to boost their reading and listening skills,” she said. “The experience also helps to build camaraderie. It’s fun to see the kids form friendships.”
Jones and others look forward to continuing to stage plays at McKinley.
“People tell me they cannot wait for their child to be in third grade because they know their child will enjoy the experience,” Jones said.
VanVoorhis appreciates that the students have this experience because it provides them an opportunity to explore the arts in a way not offered during the school day. Even the students who did not choose to participate in the performance will be able to attend one of the school performances. Through the experience he hopes students gain an appreciation for the arts.
“Seeing the production is all in-house, the students will get an overall view of what it takes to put on such a production,” he said. “It will also provide an avenue for students to showcase their talents.”
VanVoorhis cannot say enough about the parents who have volunteered their time to make this production happen for the students.
“I know that two of them started new jobs recently, but that has not stopped them from putting their heart and soul into the show,” VanVoorhis said. “They certainly exemplify the quality parents we have at McKinley. It is support like this that makes McKinley a special place to work.”