Scenic Heights students get message on acceptance through performance
Students at Scenic Heights Elementary School in Minnetonka had a break in their daily routine to learn about acceptance and differences.
CLIMB Theater performed a production, “Accepting Differences,” Jan. 17. The in-school field trip was 100 percent funded by the PTA. The long-standing relationship with the theater group affords a unique way to deliver a message of kindness.
“They do a really good job with elementary kids in terms of being interactive,” said school social worker Colleen Faber.
The performances promote traits such as empathy, making friends and being responsible, to name a few. With recent trends prompting bullying as a big issue facing kids, Faber says the focus the last two years has been on bully prevention.
As an immersion school, she says the school’s population has become more diverse, making the message even more relevant. Also as whole-school assemblies, the efforts seem to hit home more effectively, Faber says.
“I think this at the elementary school level has a greater impact,” Faber said.
By being in their own classroom, Faber says the students are more comfortable and can interface with the actors. It also masks the message in a fun environment.
The actors too see the importance of conveying the messages through theater.
“It’s very interactive,” said performer Ryan Bergman. “The students can offer suggestions on what should be done.”
Julie Janus with CLIMB Theater says it’s rare they perform without presenting a message of good with the performances.
“All of our programming is created to help with various social issues or health issues,” Janus said. “Usually there is some sort of message.”
The skits that are performed are designed either for kindergarteners through second-grade, or third- through fifth-grade. The older sessions Faber says usually have more intense dialogue and can help the students better relate to personal experiences.
This semester, Faber says the word in focus was “Kindness.” Next semester, they will focus on a new word derived from the CLIMB performances.
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