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Harness the Stars Kids Opera Company News Release

Harness the Stars Kids Opera Company
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News Release
March 1, 2015
Natania Bennett, Leslie Lopez, Kathryn Riley
Public Relations Officers

We are Harness the Stars Kids Opera Company from Stedwick Elementary School. We are twenty-five third graders from Ms. McGinn’s class. We have formed our own opera company, and our goal is to create and perform an original opera. The thirty-minute production will be performed on May 6 at 2:00 P.M. and on May 7 at 2:00 P.M and 7:00 P.M. in the school’s all-purpose room.

We have to work as a team to accomplish our goal. We have participated in several challenges to work as a team. One challenge was the “Birthday Challenge.” We had to line up in chronological order according to our birthday and year. In the “Magic Carpet Challenge,” we had to stand on the dirty side of a painter’s tarp and flip the tarp over to the clean side. This was difficult because if anyone stepped off the carpet, we had to start all over again. We have not finished this challenge yet, but we have reminded each other that IT’S ABOUT WE, NOT ME. From these challenges, we have learned to listen to each other’s ideas and follow one idea at a time.

In our opera, we each have different jobs. The jobs are: production manager, writers, public relations officers, performers, electricians, composers, set designers, and costume-makeup designers. We applied for three jobs that we felt we would be good at, that we would learn from, or that we have experience in somehow. We had to convince our directors that we were right for the job. In November, we had a ceremony where Ms.McGinn announced which job everyone received. We all signed a contract agreeing to work hard and to be responsible. We received gifts to help us perform our jobs. We have opera class every Wednesday, which is when we meet in our job groups.

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We need our opera to be meaningful. One day Ms. McGinn called on a student to tell the time. The student was struggling. Another student whispered to Ms. McGinn, “It would be easier with a digital clock.” Ms. McGinn told us what he said and we all said, “Life is no digital clock!” To us, this means that life is not easy, and we shouldn’t take the easy way out. Every day since then, our conversations often end up being about failure and how failure is a good thing because we can learn from it. So we all decided our theme for the opera would be FAILURE. Soon after that, our thesis evolved. Since we had always talked about failure and how we have to be determined to push through it, our thesis became WITHOUT FAILURE, THERE IS NO DETERMINATION.

Our company chose two settings for our opera. We begin in a classroom and then the setting changes to a bowling alley. We chose the bowling alley because our theme is failure. One of our characters usually finds everything easy, but she fails at bowling. Every character’s personality comes out at the bowling alley.

Throughout the year, special visitors come to our class to teach us how to do our jobs. Michael Solomon, Director of Public Relations for The Washington National Opera, taught us what his job is all about. He said his main job is to get as many people as possible to the show. Other visitors, opera singers Danielle Talamantes and Kerry Wilkerson, taught the performers a breathing skill. Marsha LaBoeuf, Costume Director for The Washington National Opera, explained how costumes are built. All of our visitors will help us perform our jobs better.


When you come to our opera, come a little bit early to see the display of the process we went through to create it.

The opera program is generously supported and sponsored by:
The Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center
FAME- Foundation for the Advancement of Music & Education, Inc.
Montgomery Community Media

To learn more about our process, visit our blog hosted by Montgomery Community Media: http://www.mymcmedia.org/partner/learning-for-real and like our Facebook page: Learning For Real

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Mary Ruth McGinn

About Mary Ruth McGinn

As a teacher with 29 years of experience, Mary Ruth McGinn has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the learning experiences and opportunities of students and their families. Sixteen years ago she had an experience that changed her life and altered her professional path in a profound way. She attended training sessions at The Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York City, spent nine intense days living the process of creating an original opera and learned how to replicate the experience with her students. She then began creating opera with her students and using the process of creating the opera as a vehicle through which to teach curriculum and life skills. The authentic purpose for learning coupled with the arts provided the perfect stage on which to construct a love for life-long learning. She currently teaches at Stedwick Elementary School in Montgomery Village, Maryland where she is creating another original opera with her third grade students. Read more of Mary Ruth's blog Learning for Real.


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