Kids learn serious lessons from `Clowns'


March 19, 2002|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CAN YOU learn the meaning of life from an auditorium full of clowns? If you listen closely to the story of Clowns, a musical to be presented by Stevens Forest Elementary School this week, you will hear an answer: The meaning comes from within.

The clowns' search for meaning is answered by the youngest among them, who says that each person must search for his or her own qualities. The nearly 150 third- through fifth-graders involved in the show also learned that hard work and dedication pay off.

It's not unusual for a school to put on a show, but it is unusual for an elementary school to stage such a large one, said show director Barry Palmer, the school's physical education teacher. At Stevens Forest, the "big show" is a 20-year tradition that children look forward to year after year.

Pupils in grades three through five can be involved in the productions. This year, almost all are taking part.

"It's wonderful that the kids have the opportunity to do this before they meet the challenges of middle and high school," said Christine Fettweiss, mother of fifth-grade performer Jennifer Fettweiss. "It gives them something to carry with them that they know they do well."

Palmer always chooses shows that have educational or moral value, said Nina Clopton, musical director of the show and the school's general music teacher. "The children rise to the challenge of being part of something that allows creativity."

Palmer says the show is truly a community event: "We have nearly 150 kids, and at least that many parents who help with makeup, set design, costuming, props, anything that needs to get done."

The parents aren't the only ones helping. It's customary for middle- and high-schoolers who are Stevens Forest graduates to assist at rehearsals.

"The older kids were truly helpful when I went through the program," said Oakland Mills Middle School seventh-grader Kevin Pie. "I thought it would be fun to come back and help this generation."

The school tries to incorporate all the arts into its productions. In art classes, the pupils design the programs and work on the fliers. In music classes, pupils learn the songs. But the work is not over at the end of the school day. The children have been rehearsing two to three times a week after school since January. They've learned the value of perseverance.

"If you have to do something you're not good at," said fifth-grade performer Sebastian Martinez-Greiwe, "you just have to try your hardest."

Clowns will be on stage at Oakland Mills High School at 7:30 tonight and tomorrow night. Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for students.

Information: 410-313-6900.

Young artists

Congratulations to four Stevens Forest Elementary School children whose artwork is on display at the Youth Art Month exhibition at the central and east Columbia libraries this month.

The work of fifth-graders Raanee Gandhi-Brown and Michael Harris can be seen at the central library. The east Columbia branch is exhibiting the works of third-graders Rebecca Martinez-Greiwe and Etienne Seldon.

Both exhibitions will remain on display through March 29.

Sister Cities art contest

The mission of the international Sister Cities program is to create friendships throughout the world. "No Border, No Fences ... Just Friends" is the theme of an international art contest sponsored by Sister Cities International and Columbia Art Center.

It's open to residents, ages 13 to 18, to illustrate their vision of intentional friendship. All two-dimensional pieces, including computer-generated art, are acceptable.

Local winners will be entered in the Annual International Young Artist Competition of Sister Cities International. Winners at that level will receive $300.

The submission deadline is Monday.

Information: 410-730-0075, 410-715-3162, or visit www.colum and click on "Arts & Culture."

Making beautiful music

Come hear our neighbors sing. Columbia Pro Cantare - a nonprofit organization of 120 amateur singers from Howard County - will collaborate with the Second Presbyterian Church Choir in a performance that is part of the "Community Concerts at Second" series. The concert will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the church, 4200 St. Paul St., Baltimore.

Compositions by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, Maurice Durufle, Edmund Rubbra and Sir William Walton will be featured, said Pro Cantare chorus manager Kathleen Bowen.

The concert is free but donations will be accepted.

Information: 410-465-5744 or 410-889-6819.

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