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HomeArtChocachatti First Graders Debut in the First Show of 2024

Chocachatti First Graders Debut in the First Show of 2024

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It was standing room only when the first graders at Chocachatti Elementary School presented their class play, “Bugz,” on Friday evening, January 26th. Students, relatives, friends, and the public crowded into the Chocachatti cafeteria/auditorium to see these young thespians, most of whom had never been on a stage before. I don’t know about anyone else there, but I don’t think I’ll ever look at these six and eight-legged creatures the same way as before. When I see a spider, I’ll think of the hip-hop dance performed by the boys portraying these arachnids!

Dance teacher Rhonda Bowers and the other specials teachers have produced this play with the first graders several times before and each year it’s not quite the same−some different songs, dances and monologues.

“I change the choreography up each year and sometimes we use different songs. For example, with the song “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” we added an all boy hip-hop dance because we wanted to highlight the boys.”

They started rehearsing in December. However, because of the holidays, they didn’t have a lot of opportunity to practice, so in effect, the students had less than three weeks to prepare for their debut. It’s a testimony to the cooperation between the classroom teachers and the “Specials” teachers that they were able to pull it off.

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Along with Ms. Bowers, the “Specials” teachers include Drama instructor, Irmarie Kraft; Music teacher, Nancy Kraus; Art teacher, Marianne Poholek; and P.E. teacher, Jennifer Flaherty. The second grade teachers are Laura Ann Kent, Noelle Olszewski , Larissa Orlando, Jessica Price, Amanda Siani, Sara Kathleen Skidmore, and Christine Wilkerson

Ms. Kraus, explained why this particular show is a favorite of hers.
“I like John Jacobson. He’s the composer of the music. He does a fabulous job and he has great shows for children. I have to give praise to Ms. Bowers. She works so diligently with the children on the dances and I think that makes the show. She gave so much time to doing that.”

What makes Chocachatti plays different from many other school plays is that every child in that grade level has a chance to participate. Most are on stage, either as part of the chorus, as a solo performer, a dancer, or doing a monologue. Many participate in more than one way. The fact that the show comes off so seamlessly is due, in a large part, to the support of the classroom teachers. Of course, the parents encourage their children along the way, also.

Those who don’t perform, act as the stage crew−handling sound, lights and props. Occasionally, a child will have to step in to fill a role at the last minute because the regular performer is either sick or, in the case of this show, the child’s family moved out of town.

Rosebella Latiere, who played a ladybug, had a speaking role and participated in one of the dances. She stated, “It was easy for me to learn my lines and I liked the dancing the best.”

Ethan Poy played the part of a flipping beetle, also called a “click beetle.” He got to perform cartwheels in one of the dances. He stated that he was excited about the part. He already knew how to do cartwheels, so it wasn’t difficult for him to do them in the play.

Waylon Coghill played a spider and participated in the hip-hop dance. He also had a speaking role. His favorite part was the “coffee grinder” step that was part of that dance.

Brooke Gosnell’s role was a firefly. She had a speaking part and stated that the lines were easy to learn but “the motions were a little bit tricky.” She remarked, “I liked how everyone gets to sing when they’re on the risers and some of them get to sing in the microphone.”

Emma Schweibinz was a butterfly in the show. She also had a speaking part, but commented that her favorite part was the singing.

Mila Romero portrayed a dragonfly. She was a “triple threat”− with a singing, dancing and speaking role. Mila danced to the tune “Bug and Roll,” sung to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.”

Marissa Musick played one of the army ants, dressed in camouflage outfits and wearing helmets. She also sang and had a speaking role. Like most of the others, her favorite part was dancing.

As with many shows, even in professional theatre, there was a glitch which occurred right at the very beginning. There was a problem with the microphone. The young lady who was to do the first solo, kept her poise and smiled. The dancers behind her remained in what must have been an uncomfortable position crouching on the floor for several minutes until the problem was fixed. Real troopers!

The costumes were imaginative and colorful, yet realistic enough so that anyone in the audience could pretty much tell what type of bug was portrayed.

The songs and dances were creative. For example, the song “Bug and Roll” had a Rock vibe to it and the “Picnic Song” had a Country flavor. The dancing that accompanied the ladybug song, “Be a Lady” resembled a burlesque dance −minus the “naughty parts.” The song “10 Million Fireflies” reminded me of the 1983 song “99 Red Balloons.” And, of course, the army ants dance was done to a rousing marching song.

The basic plot of the play was that the bugs plan to invade a picnic laid out by unseen humans. “Everybuggy” was on board with the idea, but they wanted to exclude the stink bugs because of their obnoxious odor. It was the praying mantis that came up with the idea to use sweet-smelling flower leis to hide the stink bugs’ odor. In the end, everyone was happy−except maybe the humans!

School plays such as “Bugz” are a wonderful way to develop children’s talent and self-esteem, along with teaching the discipline necessary to stick with a project . These plays also teach in a fun way valuable lessons, such as kindness and cooperation.

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