Empire Elementary School students Daniela Platero, 9, left, Kimberly Zepeda Carmona, 9, and Anapaula Delgado, 9 rehearse a song for their upcoming play that will be performed twice on Monday.
Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal
Young performers in Empire Elementary School learned how to project their lines and prepared signs and other props this week for a mini-musical they’re performing Monday.
A group of Empire students is joining with Wild Horse Children’s Theater to host the play “Matter and Its Properties: The Science of Stuff” at 5:30 p.m. Monday. About 30 third- to fifth-grade students will perform on stage, singing, dancing and engaging the audience in a television program format.
“I am so incredibly proud of these students,” said Tara Rispin, play director and Eagle Valley Middle School teacher. “For almost all of them, this is the first play production they have been a part of. When initially planning this production, we were expecting about 15 to 20 students. When more than 30 students showed up for the first day rehearsal, I knew that introducing these kiddos to theater arts was exactly what they needed.”
The students rehearsed several times throughout the week, preparing for a show for their peers during the day at Empire and for the evening performance.
“Matter and Its Properties: The Science of Stuff” is a fun and educational musical production where students, portraying morning TV show hosts, welcome guests to talk about the building blocks of the universe. The lively TV program, complete with commercials, will explore whether a cake can be unbaked or if a house can be built out of gumdrops.
Empire is Carson City’s only governor-designated STEM school, and the production was decided upon by the staff in alignment with its focus on science and technology activities.
It was made possible through the district’s federal Title III grant, which provides supplemental funds to aid English language development and academic instruction programs. Title III guidance also mandates a portion of that funding be devoted to ensuring parent, family and community engagement.
“First, we wanted to bring an opportunity for enrichment via participating in the arts for students at the school site,” said Tanya Scott, the district’s assistant director of equity and English learner programming.
“Secondly, we thought … parents might be encouraged to volunteer and lend their talents in a manner that is beyond what we typically task parent volunteers with. For example, many parents are involved in creating some of the props for the play.”
The grant supporting the production is written for non-English speakers to enhance their skills and give an opportunity to those who might not have seen a live theater performance before, said Wild Horse Executive Director Carol Scott.
“Here they are, doing a show, and it’s been an exceptional experience,” Scott said.
The partners on the project said the students come to their rehearsals excited about the arts and theater.
“I am a firm believer that students learn through art integration, and I think it is evident during rehearsals that these kids have not only learned some science and theater, but have also gained the confidence to communicate and be part of the team,” Rispin said. “It has been such a joy to watch these kids take ownership of this show and truly begin to shine. As we say in the theater world, a few of these young actors have definitely caught the ‘theater bug’ and I could not be more proud.”