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Traveling back in time

Kalip, Mason, and Dillon acting as the Founding Fathers.

     Students sometimes find history boring and difficult to understand. Teachers are always looking for ways to make it fun and exciting so that students remain interested and engaged. Bright Star Touring Theatre has found a way to do just that. Bright Star began in 2003, and is now beginning their 8th season. They are currently running four different shows across 16 states. Students in grades 4-5, at Union Elementary School, were able to enjoy one of their current shows on September 23, 2010. They watched the show entitled, “Jack’s Adventure in American History.” The show was not only action packed, but also packed with fact after fact about American History. The show lasted about forty-five minutes, and during that time students were introduced to over twenty-two characters from history.
     When students entered the gym they automatically became a part of the stage. It was set up like a classroom and they soon learned that they would be playing the part of students for the day. To open the show, the “teacher” came on stage and begin prepping them for a test. Before handing out the test she asked students if they had any questions. Another actor had placed himself amongst the audience and, of course, he had questions! This actor, Jack, begin to ask some very interesting questions about American History. After asking several questions, the teacher asked Jack to come to the front of the class and open his history book to study. As Jack opened the book he was suddenly taken back in time.
     The first person Jack met on his adventure was a woman carrying a young baby. The woman told Jack that the baby’s name was Virginia Dare. Jack quickly realized that he was standing in the year 1587 and speaking to a woman from the Lost Colony. Throughout his travels, Jack met people like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, and more. He also experienced events such as The Boston Tea Party, the writing of the Constitution, and the creation of the train. During the entire show students were actively involved in the history lesson. They were learning facts about American History without even realizing it!
     During two parts of Jack’s adventure students were asked to participate in the show. Three boys acted as the Founding Fathers and, later in the presentation, they created an assembly line to help Henry Ford make cars. Three of Union’s girls participated in a campaign for women’s rights in the 1920s. Tess Kessler, fifth grade student, said “My favorite part was seeing Betsy Ross. I thought it was neat how she sewed the flag.” After several characters would come on stage Jack would review with students what he had learned. Students were repeating facts back to him over and over again throughout the presentation. Another way Jack and the historical characters helped students remember facts was by making them into rhymes. One such rhyme was “in seventeen hundred and seventy three, we filled Boston Harbor with boxes of tea.” Students walked away from this presentation not only filled with lots of knowledge about American history, but also, excited to learn more.
     All of the characters in this presentation were played by two performers, Ashley and Jason. They have been working with Bright Star Touring Theatre on this particular show since the beginning of September. Amongst other places they have traveled to Rockhill, Augusta, and Atlanta during September. Amber said that her favorite thing about performing in these shows is “participating with the kids”. She says that many kids are shy when they are in the classroom and she knows it takes a lot of bravery for them to stand up in front of their peers and perform. She likes seeing them open up. Both Ashley and Jason did a wonderful job teaching the students at Union about American History!

Written by: Jennifer B. Williams, Media Coordinator
Posted: Sep 24, 2010 by Jennifer Williams

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