Posted 13 January 2014 12:00 AM by Kelly Prestel, Target Arts Teaching Artist at the J. F. Kennedy Elementary School in Jamaica Plain

Do you ever have the feeling that you blinked and something was over? That is how I feel about my time with Ms. Gibbon's 4th grade class at John F. Kennedy Elementary! It feels like just yesterday we were playing get-to-know-you theatre games and learning the basics of folktales.

Each passing week, I saw tremendous growth in our students. And not just growth in their knowledge of performing and storytelling, but positive personal developments as well. Whether it was one of our shy students coming out of his shell, or a kid who was "too cool for school" enthusiastically participating, it's those breakthrough moments of personal growth that fill your heart with pride. I was fortunate to witness several of those beautiful moments with a number of students this fall.

As we explored topics on folktales and theatrical performance, our students also generated original material to create a brand-new, devised folktale titled "El Sol y La Luna." Our folktale explains the origins of solar eclipses using the traditional folktale format. Each student created a unique animal character for the performance, and collectively, established the moral lessons used in the piece. Using their own words and ideas, we were able to craft a heart-warming and uplifting tale of a brave frog and his friends going to save the sun.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite moments from my time with this wonderful group of student artists. After the students took their bow following their first show, I ran backstage to congratulate the ensemble for a terrific performance. One of our leads, who earned a bigger role after showing her continued improvement with her work ethic and attitude, ran over, threw her arms around me with a smile beaming from her face, and exclaimed, "I'll never forget this day!" I looked around and saw 20 smiling performers, cheering each other on and glowing with pride. Just like my student, I will never forget that day or this class.

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