Bret Harte Jungle Book Kids Stirs Excitement And Engagement

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The entire second-grade class at Bret Harte Elementary School presented the annual Bret Harte Jungle Book Kids play for two performances at the school on Thursday and Friday, April 7 and 8.

Students in Darlene Crain, Jennifer Brown, Catherine McMurry, Linda Gregorczyk and Jennifer Niwa’s classes worked together with school staff and parent volunteers to produce the show.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

All second-grade classes have performed the musical annually for the past five years.

Six years ago, a former second-grade teacher, Wendy Thompson, and a former Bret Harte parent, Lisa Dyson, wrote a grant funded by Burbank Arts For All Foundation (BAFA) so Thompson’s class could put on the production of Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids.

After that inaugural year, two second-grade teachers would collaborate to present the musical, explained Gregorczyk. “This year, for the first time, we had all the second-grade classes in one musical performance.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“With Common Core curriculum and time constraints, the second-grade team got together and wrote a whole Common Core curriculum integrating The Jungle Book musical,” she went on to say. “The curriculum involved language arts, math, science, social studies and art.”

Parent Portia Schaeffer designed a new set for the production this year. Teachers and parents made the costumes and helped with face painting the day of the production.

“Each child is given a script which they take home so they can learn the musical and prepare for auditions,” Gregorczyk  added. “After some rehearsal, we hold auditions for the lead parts.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“What’s so unique about our production is that every child has a part in the production and a chance to perform on stage, not just the leads.”

“I was excited, yet nervous to perform,” commented Lena Luka, who played the character of Bagheera.

Georgia Dadekian, who played Baloo, said, “It was fun and exciting. It was the first time I ever got to play a lead role! I had fun.”

“It’s a lot of extra work for the teachers but we all feel it’s so rewarding for the students that it’s worth it,” said Gregorczyk. “There are students who struggle in school but get so excited about the production, that this is an area where they are able to excel.”

“It warms all our hearts to see such excitement in every child.”


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