Afterschool theatre program comes alive

Two groups of Kennedy Elementary students are getting ready to debut the latest performing arts programming in the Fargo Public Schools, thanks to a building-level partnership with the District’s Trollwood Performing Arts School.

On October 12 and 13, two groups of students enrolled in the first-ever Trollwood Children’s Theatre (TCT) afterschool program will take to the stage to perform for the production of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids. The programs, which took shape last spring, are created for students in grades K-2 and grades 3-5. The activities are taught and coached by theatre and elementary education professionals, designed to expose students to the world of theatre performance and production.

Students in the grade 3-5 program have been immersed in the activity’s creative process since September 18, and have become cast and crew for their production. In the K-2 program, held the week leading up to the performances, professionals engage those students in introductory theatre games, voice instruction, and movement. The K-2 program concludes with public pre-show performances before the Disney production.

TCT has been in the works for a year, and on the radar even longer. It is the brainchild of TPAS Executive Director Kathy Anderson and Moorhead music educator Joan Degerness. The two wanted to create a program for kids that could literally be delivered to schools, unpacked and bolted together. Funding for Trollwood to design and implement TCT – approximately $7,000 in start-up costs – finally became available in 2012. TCT is designed like a turnkey program, in a way so that participating schools can cover costs through their own means: registration fees, ticket sales, PTAs, or other sources.

In the spring, the concept was introduced to principals. Kennedy Principal Jerry Hanson became the first to request it, with support from the school’s PTA. Following the end of the Trollwood summer musical in August, Anderson, Degerness, and Program Coordinator Nancy Glaser set about organizing teams to build and create Kennedy’s program so that it would be ready to launch in the fall. Many of the people on the teams include Trollwood alumni.
Kennedy students will showcase the inaugural production of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids on the auditorium main stage at Discovery Middle School on Friday, Oct. 12 (7:00 p.m.) and Saturday, Oct. 13 (2:00 p.m.). [Tickets for the shows can be purchased at the Kennedy office or at the shows. Tickets are $5.00 (adults) and $3.00 (students). Age 5 & under are free.]

After the curtain closes, Glaser and Anderson will review the Kennedy program and plan for future sessions of TCT. Their vision is to continue developing teams to make it available in partnerships with other school districts in the region. In the meantime, the Kennedy students are right where they want to be…in the spotlight.

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