Our Mission in Action
independent thinking students of knowledge, courage, personal integrity and compassion
COURAGE: On Stage
This year's Junior High musical did not disappoint. Those who attended were greeted by an entertaining cast, toe-tapping musical numbers and beautiful set design, all of which made for a magically sweet experience. All Junior High students mustered the courage needed to overcome butterflies and get on stage.
"The thing I love about doing a musical is that I see students grow so much," said Music Director Lani Knutson. She sees some students grow by playing a bigger role than last year or becoming more confident on stage. Others may find that they are a crack stage manager or that they love creating the set and costume design.
Chase K. and Shelby L. both stood out as students who really made big theatrical strides with their performances. Knutson commented that Shelby, who played Mrs. Beauregarde, "Had never done any acting before last year’s musical, and not only did she find that she loves it, but she is quite good at it as well." She added that it was wonderful to see Chase K., who played Mr. Bucket, step out of the crowd scenes this year and take a big role singing and dancing in front of the crowd.
The impetus behind the musical is that it is a class project; all students must participate in some way. They do not have to sing a solo or even have lines, but they do have to be on-stage at some point even if it is only in a crowd scene. This is important because an MMS production may be the only time some students take to the stage, and there are many benefits to learning theater arts. As the American Alliance for Theatre & Education points out, "Emphasis on creativity, critical thinking and collaborative skills especially apply to all fields in the 21st century workforce."
Theater experiences can also help students uncover hidden talents. "Last year, we discovered that Rose A. is an AMAZING stage manager. She whipped everyone into shape with scene changes and props. This year, we immediately put her as stage manager, and she is largely to credit for pulling off the elaborate sets and scene changes," exclaimed Lani Knutson.
"Think positive!" was definitely the overarching theme, and Kassi T. did a wonderful job of capturing that attitude in her portrayal of Charlie Bucket. It was an attitude that caught-on with all JH students. “Doing this whole project was so exciting and interesting to me," reflected Ruwandi W., who played an Oompaloompa. She adds that preparing for the musical made her wake up in the morning feeling excited for her day "because we were working on the play and making costumes and scenery etc.”
Special thanks to Director/Choreographer Pam Davison
This year Pam Davison once again volunteered her time to direct and choreograph our Junior High musical. Davison, an MMS parent, brings a great deal of theatrical talent and experience to our productions.
She graduated from U.W. Stevens Point with a degree in theater and minor in dance. She then pursued theater in New York City and ended up acting in the dinner theater circuit. After that, she landed in North Carolina and wrote and directed plays for Greensborough Storybook Theater.
Davison moved back to Milwaukee in 1990 and began working at First Stage Milwaukee, and from 1992-1997 she acted as the Education Director there. During that time, she also acted, wrote and directed in various plays at First Stage.
After leaving First Stage, she worked as a drama consultant in public schools, creating programs that dealt with self-esteem and developing character, as well as directing plays. Since 2008, she's been the managing director for Morning Star Productions, a small theater company.
She said, "I especially love introducing young people to the fun and miracle of theater, which is why I so enjoy directing the MMS middle school production. Of course, my best job of all is being Mom to Grace, Sam, Noah, Redat and Ruhama."
COMPASSION: Jump Rope for Heart
Last week LE-JH students jumped their hearts out (pun intended) to the tune of $8,122, which will benefit the American Heart Association. MMS has been participating in Jump Rope for Heart since 2000, and the benefits are threefold. Students realize how their service of raising funds supports research and education, and how their efforts can help save lives across the country and in their community. Students can even show their compassion for someone in their life by choosing to honor someone they want to jump for. The event also helps our students understand the importance of developing heart healthy habits, and finally, participation shows our students that being physically active can be fun!
When it was jump time, fast-beating music began to pump out of the boombox. Students got into groups with their friends and took turns jumping, while getting a great workout. Their two hours of jumping also included a variety of contests and jumping activity stations such as higher and higher, helicopter, and long rope.
When it was all over, they left the gym giddy, sweaty and satisfied with the accomplishment.