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Mount Vernon Students Write Plays

Some 49 fifth-graders from Hybla Valley, Mount Vernon Woods, Woodlawn and Woodley Hills Elementary Schools have been creating original plays on themes of importance to them and rehearsing them once a week since February. The Mount Vernon Community Children's Theatre received a $11,920 grant from the Arts Council of Fairfax County to conduct a 10-week after-school theatre program. Students were selected who could benefit from the life-long skills that theatre imparts and who might not otherwise have access to such activities. The four participating Fairfax County Elementary Schools are located in the West Potomac and Mount Vernon High School pyramids and have significant populations of students on free or reduced lunch.

The program's instructors and directors include Chris McGriff, Della Nikol Sandor, and Melanie McCleerey who also serves as coordinator for the overall program.

Woodlawn "is thrilled to be a part of the MVCCT's After-School Theater Program," said Woodlawn Elementary Principal Stephanie Bisson. "This program offers Woodlawn Elementary students a unique opportunity to express themselves. The skills they are learning will enhance students' learning at school and throughout life."

Mount Vernon Woods Principal Marie Lemmon concurred, saying that "Mount Vernon Woods is greatly appreciative for the opportunity to have our students participate in such a wonderful program … many of our students would not have the means to take advantage of programs like these. We are grateful to the Arts Council of Fairfax County for doing its part in making a significant difference for the children of this great county."

MVCCT Education Director Beth Hauptle, who spearheaded the group's efforts to secure the grant, is excited about its potential to stimulate and enhance the cultural life of local youth. "MVCCT has been producing children's shows and providing arts education programs for 26 years," she said. "This grant enables us to serve populations we don't consistently reach and expands our existing after-school programs to new students and audiences. The grant also enables us to reach more students in the four schools through offers of free tickets to our productions and scholarships to our spring break and summer camps."