Shakespeare Exploration Day Engages And Entertains

By On May 29, 2014

Burbank Unified School District recently held a Shakespeare Exploration Day for 200 students in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program from every elementary school in the district. The Burbank Adult School opened its doors to the students as they attended various classes and demonstrations throughout the full school day program.

Caroline Solberg, a Jefferson parent and volunteer, organized the grant funding effort which made the Exploration Day possible. The students also celebrated the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth with slices of cake.

Penelope White and Nova McNally, Roosevelt fourth-graders, spar with foils.  (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Penelope White and Nova McNally, Roosevelt fourth-graders, spar with foils. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“This GATE event was an excellent example of what can happen when parents, teachers and administrators all work together to put together a high quality learning experience for students,” commented Dr. Tom Kissinger, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services. “I was just thrilled to see almost two hundred fourth- and fifth-graders, from all eleven elementary schools, participating.”

Student learned about Shakespeare’s biographical details and life in England during the later part of the 16th century and early 17th century, including manners, language and other aspects of the culture at that time.

They listened to performances of and acted out scenes from Romeo and Juliet. Students also practiced sword fighting and stage combat skills with instructors from Swordplay and participated in team building exercises.

Jefferson parent and Shakespeare Exploration Day organizer Caroline Solberg hands fourth-grader Kaylee Hirsch from Roosevelt a slice of cake to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday. (Photo Courtesy of Colleen Matlock)

Jefferson parent and Shakespeare Exploration Day organizer Caroline Solberg hands fourth-grader Kaylee Hirsch from Roosevelt a slice of cake to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday. (Photo Courtesy of Colleen Matlock)

“I really enjoyed learning about Shakespeare as well as practicing my sword fighting skills in preparation for my scene from Romeo and Juliet,” said Rhett Hemingway, a fourth-grader from Brett Harte Elementary. “I have to admit I was a little surprised by how interesting Shakespeare was.”

Kelly Matlock, a fourth-grader from Roosevelt Elementary, thought the Shakespeare Exploration Day “was super fabulous amazing. I wish I could do it again.”

“My favorite part was everything, but if I had to pick something, I’d say the acting part,” she added.

Students learn to properly bow and curtsy, in a class taught by Lisa Dyson. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students learn to properly bow and curtsy, in a class taught by Lisa Dyson. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Shakespeare Exploration Day was the first day program of its kind for GATE students in BUSD, with three to four more planned for the 2014-15 school year. The district also plans to expand with similar programs at the middle school level in the near future, according to Kissinger.

Youngsters age 9 to 15 with an interest in acting and learning more about Shakespeare may be interested in joining the Burbank Youth Summer Theatre Institute’s annual summer camp. Families can register via the Burbank Parks and Rec website. The camp runs for three weeks in June and will be taught by actor/artists Lisa Dyson, David Prather, Beth Morrison and Crystal Robbins.

Students practice stage combat and fencing basics at Shakespeare Exploration Day. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students practice stage combat and fencing basics at Shakespeare Exploration Day. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)