Published 11:48 am Tuesday, December 9, 2008
A Christmas musical with Frosty the Snowman has nothing on any other school play this time of year. But one with Elvis? That’s definitely a different story.
But there he was. Back from Kalamazoo. In fact, he came in quadruplicate through the talents of Wes Malavenda, Zachary Walters, Shawn Howard and Andrew Black. It was all part of this year’s holiday production, “Forever Christmas,” put on by the fourth graders of Chesapeake Elementary School.
Under the direction of the school’s music teacher, Bethany Himes, the fourth graders sang, danced and mugged their way through two shows on Monday, the first in the afternoon for their classmates and a handful of parents and then in the evening for the community.
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It was a pastiche of traditional and modern music from “A Caroling We Go” to C.J. Roberts, Nathan Callicoat and Tyler Workman doing their Alvin and the Chipmunks impersonation singing the 1958 hit “The Christmas Song.”
In her second year at Chesapeake teaching elementary level music Himes said one of her hopes from the production was for the children to be satisfied with what they have accomplished and use it as a stepping-stone for more challenges.
“I want them to use the talent God has given them and realize they can do everything they want to, if they put their mind to it,” she said, minutes before the first show went on. “I hope they will look back and be proud of what they did.”
Himes, who started rehearsals in October, said one of her greatest challenges was to get her students to learn to believe in themselves.
“You have to have a little bit of psychology,” she said. “When they realize that, that will change their lives. The next time they face something, their reaction will be ‘I did it then. I can do it now.’ “
Eight-year-old Meggie Cauley found she enjoyed performing on stage, right down to the try-outs that many pros dread.
“It was fun because you get to audition for your own parts,” she said.
This was the fifth time Abbi Adkins, 10, has been in a production, either at school or her church. Playing in the Suzie Snowflake vignette, Abbi said it was all the disciplines that appealed to her — singing, dancing and acting.
Austin Suiter, 10, who played sound tech and offered the invocation at the evening performance, had a special wish for the audience.
“I want them to learn Christmas is not all about presents,” he said. “It is God’s birthday.”
Himes and Melissa Cremeans, a first grade teacher, devised the choreography and Linda Long, a fourth grade teacher, taught the youngsters sign language for the carol, “Silent Night.”
Himes envisions a greater future for this class as many were able to bring out what she calls “their inner divas.”
“When they get to high school, these will be the ones who shine,” she said. “They have a lot of drama in everything.”