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Lightning Strike Kids Opera Company News Release

photo Lighting Strike Kids Opera Company logo

News Release

March 6, 2014

Imari Davis and Samantha Ruiz

Public Relations Officers

We are Lightning Strike Kids Opera Company, twenty-two third graders in Ms. McGinn’s class. We are making our own original opera. On May 7 at 2 p.m. and May 8 at 2 and 7 p.m. our opera will be performed at Stedwick Elementary School in the All Purpose Room.

We work as a team to accomplish our opera. We participated in a Magic Carpet Challenge to improve our working-together skills. In this challenge, our whole class had to flip over a painter’s tarp while every person remained on it without stepping off. This was not easy. It took many tries and strategies until we figured it out. As challenges arise this year, we will use these strategies to work through problems.
photo children working together

To create our opera, we work in jobs: production manager, stage manager, writers, public relations officers, performers, electricians, composers, set designers, and costume and make-up designers. We filled out job applications for three jobs convincing our directors we were best for the job. We also had job interviews. We had a ceremony on Nov. 13, 2013 where Ms. McGinn announced who received each job. We were given tools to help us perform our jobs. Now we work in our job groups every Wednesday to do our part in creating the opera.
photo child playing xylophone
Since we wanted our opera to be meaningful, we brought in special objects from home and told what these objects represented. Many of these objects reminded us of people we miss or are longing to see. From this, we determined our opera theme would be RECONNECTION. Since reconnection causes both happiness at being together and pain because you know you will have to separate again, our thesis emerged: Reconnection causes mixed emotions.

Our setting is a train station. We went on a field trip to Union Station in Washington, DC because we decided this setting would be an appropriate place to show people connecting and separating. Michele Jacobs, Managing Director of Special Events at Union Station, Jamie L. Wilson, Manager of Station Operations, and Debi Beham, District Manager of Commuter Operations led us on a tour of an Acela train, the Grand Hall, and the Columbus Club where pictures of the old Union Station are on display. We will utilize what we experienced in many ways. What we saw will help create the stage sets for our opera, what we heard will be added to the opera’s music by the composers, and the electricians will use their observations of lighting to create the effects on stage.

Throughout the year, special visitors have come to our class to teach us how to do our jobs. Michael Solomon, Director of Public Relations for the Washington National Opera, explained the main job of PR is to get as many people as possible to your show. Danielle Talamantes, an opera singer, taught the performers how to use their breathing to produce “forte” (loud sounds). Ms. LaBouef, Costume Director for The Washington National Opera, explained her job as making sure all costumes are performer ready for each show. Susan Eisenberg, a professional writer, shared her passion for writing and gave each class member a moleskin notebook to jot down good writing ideas.

photo children working with saw
We created five characters for our opera. Each of the five characters has both positive and negative traits, because all people have a combination of traits. The class decided what traits would be logical. For example, even though character Spike is apathetic and rude, he still has his good side of being playful and open-minded.

Like the characters’ traits, the scenario of our opera came about through class discussion and role play. Students acted out different ideas in front of the class and the rest of the class decided if that scene would be a powerful part of the opera.

We are learning big lessons about how to succeed in life by creating our own opera. Cooperation is a way to work through a problem, and we should persevere until something good happens. We learned an important motto: it’s not about ME- it’s about WE.

Here are some other lessons that will help us.

  • I will stand up to bullying, bad choices, stupidity and bad influences.
  • Life is not fair, not even a pinch. I have to deal with consequences.
  • Don’t follow those who make poor choices.
  • I need to show self-control so that I don’t get fired from my job.
  • I will not let my anger get in the way.
  • I am learning not to avoid things that are hard for me.
  • Don’t let people take you away and distract you.
  • I am learning to work in a team.
  • Silliness can take you away.
  • You can make it through anything, even when people let you down.
  • You have to believe in yourself, not give up.
  • If someone says something important, write it down.
  • I will challenge myself.
  • I have learned to think. My thinking is getting deeper.

child singing
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 page on Facebook, Learning For Real.

Mary Ruth McGinn

About Mary Ruth McGinn

As a teacher with 28 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. Fifteen 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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