McKinley Elementary School Develops Character Through Music

The Princess and Frog played by: Victoria Valenzuela,Gemma Maginnis,Marion Hunter and Frog Prince Hamlet Murazan. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

McKinley Elementary School musical performance is meant to be a fun assignment after state testing, but third- and fourth-grade students also learn about taking responsibility, accepting people from all walks of life and forgiving people who make mistakes. Teachers say students remember things from the plays that come up in the classroom.


By Joyce Rudolph


Three classes at McKinley Elementary School gave their parents and siblings a lesson in building positive traits with an after-school musical performance titled “Character Matters.”

Character Matters Cast. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

About 90 students, representing two fourth-grade classes and one third-grade class, took part in the production, said Cherie Wescott, who produced the musical along with Mr. Danielson, Mrs. D’Mello and Mrs. Fuentez.

“Every year we get together and do one of these at the end of the year,” she said. “We just find it is a nice way to wind things up for the kids and after all the hard work of state testing it gives them a little relaxation. It is something fun for them to do every year.”

The topic was combining favorite fairy tales with lessons on building good character.

The Princess and Frog played by: Victoria Valenzuela,Gemma Maginnis,Marion Hunter and Frog Prince Hamlet Murazan. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We purchased this play from a company in Camarillo,” Wescott said. “We have a selection of these musical performances we have purchased from them. We did this one about four years ago. We try to do a different one each year.”

Wescott believes the youngsters take what they’ve learned from the plays and apply it to the classroom curriculum.

“In the past we did a play about the western movement and they will come back the next year when it’s part of the social studies curriculum and they say they remember when the same things were mentioned in the play,” she said.

The chorus of the song that runs through the entire production hits a poignant note.

“Character matters, you must care how you act. Character matters, as a matter of fact. Character matters, ’cause you are what you choose. Character matters, it’s one thing you can’t lose.”

In one skit, “Magic Mirrors,” three students~Robert McGraham, Kate Outwater and Troy Outwater ~ wear cardboard squares covered in a reflective material, in a take on the story of “Snow White.”

The final line says “Honesty is the fairest of all.”

Humpty Friends John Alajijian and Christopher Hawandjian. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In another scene, Richard Solano plays Jack and Brandin Gustafson is the giant from “Jack and the Bean Stalk.”

“I learned that you don’t judge someone by how they look, but by asking them questions and finding out something about them,” Richard Solano said.

The final line is “Differences can be scary, but it’s cool.”

Parent Fran Martin said she was impressed with the acting. Her favorite scene was the one about Humpty Dumpty and his friends, she said.

“It was about taking responsibility and the little girl was blaming everyone but herself,” Martin said. “I thought that was really cute.”