Alexa Goodman, a Potomac Elementary third-grader, went straight for the top. Along with the class Public Relations department, Goodman invited First Lady Laura Bush to attend their third-grade opera “Who Are the Champions?”
“Mrs. Bush had someone call our school to say she couldn’t come,” Goodman said. “She missed out on a good show.”
There was a full house in Potomac’s all-purpose room for Opening Night on Wednesday, May 26. Had Laura Bush attended, she would have seen an original work written, performed and produced exclusively by Potomac’s third-graders. Students could audition for cast roles or could help as Electricians, Carpenters, Composers, Historians, Makeup Artists, Set Designers or in Public Relations.
“We made it ourselves,” said third-grader Christina Michaels, a Production Manager. “It’s our own; we didn’t copy anyone else.”
“The success of it was that all the teachers sat in chairs and were part of the audience,” said Pet Fressrand, a music teacher at Potomac.
Ten student writers created an opera with scenes drawn from real-life experiences. Ian (played by Will Cherenkoff) is taunted by rude, bossy and jealous students on the school bus. The story moved to a soccer field, where the Falcons’ perseverance and team play helps them overcome the talented but self-centered players on the Bulldogs.
“You need to use teamwork, you need to work hard. If you never give up, you will go far,” the entire cast sang in the opera’s finale.
“The process taught me. It’s changed the way I’ll teach in the future,” said Fressrand. “Give them the structure, and give them the freedom to get what’s inside of them out, and let it flow from there.”
THE CHAMPIONS' OWN WORDS
“We made it ourselves. … It’s our own; we didn’t copy anyone else.”
—Christina Michaels, Production Manager
“We had to put together our songs and make all the sets.”
— Matthew Kramer, Production Manager
“People are really obnoxious on the bus. … Once this guy in the second grade said, ‘Little girl, you’d better move.’”
—Haley Goss-Holmes, ‘Casey’ in the cast
“The bus scene where I yelled at Will, that’s so like [a real bus]. They yell all the time.”
—Addie Gamliel, ‘Jordan’ in the cast
“The funniest time was when the flatboard fell on Suzanne [Johnson].”
—Bailey Boyland, ‘Olivia’ in the cast
“I’m lazy, but I’m funny.”
—Daniel Echikson, ‘Brad’ in the cast
“I think they’d like the songs, especially the ‘Rude, Bossy and Jealous’ one.”
—Danielle Green, ‘Debbie’ in the cast
“I had to pick which makeup we’d put on the performers.”
—Nikki Rabovsky, Makeup Artist
“Mrs. Bush had someone call our school to say she couldn’t come. … She missed out on a good show.”
—Alexa Goodman, Public Relations
“I’m amazed how fast they memorized their lines, and the kids did it mostly by themselves.”
—Darien Aubino, ‘Elizabeth’ in the cast