The Elementary's 'Odyssey' musical production was epic and beautiful earlier this month at the Grange. In a quaint hall, with a backdrop of Ionic columns and a glow of soft lights, the children achieved something truly magnificent. They sang their hearts out, remembered their blocking, kept track of their props and so much more. Students were the set crew when not on-stage acting, they ran the follow-spot, they helped with costumes and embraced the full experience. As teachers, we are so proud!
In case you couldn't make it, here are two notes from the Odyssey program:
Note from Ms. Nicole
Since the idea of a full theatrical production arose during a faculty meeting last spring, this has been an epic journey for us an Elementary community! Distilling Homer’s archetypal celebration of human frailty and perseverance to an Elementary-friendly, child-focused theatrical production has been arduous and full of delights. Our adaption of The Odyssey is shorter and simpler than the original, but careful attention has been paid to staying true to story and the power of the epic poem. We hope you enjoy it, and find in it the joy, greed, pride, humility, heroism, longing and love that is woven through the fabric of the story. We couldn’t be prouder of our community tonight, especially with the two snow days earlier this week. It’s amazing that we made it! Enjoy the show!
Our Deepest Thanks
Most important of all, we thank the MCH Parent Association for the financial support and tireless volunteer efforts of the MCH parent community.
We are deeply grateful to our set, costume, and props volunteer teams. We couldn’t have done it without you!
During rehearsal recently, one of our youngest child actors burst out, “Let me through! I light the way!” You, dear volunteers, have lit the way for us and transformed our community into what some of the oldest students are now calling “Montessori Children’s House of Theater Arts.”
For more than ten years, the Elementary Program has been growing and thriving. Last winter, when we began dreaming about the 2016-17 school year, we decided to reach further than ever before. We decided to create an original musical theater production in all of its glory!
And now, our production is in full swing! We have an original adaptation of the Odyssey, twelve original songs, 50 child actors, a truck load of historically accurate props, gorgeous sets, production teams and a cadre of inspired, creative parent volunteers, and the financial support of our Parent Association. Our Odyssey already feels both epic and amazing, even though we're still more than three weeks away from our performance on Feb. 10.
In the classrooms, we are rehearsing multiple times a week and have begun the serious work of creating sets, costumes and props for our play. Theater has the power to transform lives in a very real sense. Before becoming a teacher, I worked in professional theater in Washington, D.C, and on Cape Cod. During that time, I experienced first hand how deeply empowering it is to contribute creatively to a communal artistic effort. With our students, as well, I can see a growing sense of ownership, confidence, ease and leadership. Also, some of our most hesitant actors are blossoming on stage. This is truly a transformative experience for our children and our Elementary community.
Having been with the MCH Elementary Program since its inception, I feel proud that we are ready for such big work. To me, this means that we can continue to feel like a Montessori family with a deeply connected and nurturing community of teachers, families and children, while also offering amazingly enriched experiences to our students.
As Montessori teachers, we are often with our students for many years. The connections we build with children last. Each child changes us, teaches us, and helps us understand more about the world. In turn, we hope to make a lasting difference in their lives. When Dr. Montessori said, “Follow the child,” she was directing us to be in the moment with each child and to respond to their needs and interests. As Montessori teachers, however, my colleagues and I also stretch ourselves to take the “long view” of the child. We ask ourselves to imagine who they are becoming and who they will eventually be.
Once in a while, after they leave our classrooms, we get a glimpse of who they are. I got a lovely letter from an alum once. She said, “You showed me the path and I followed. I discovered and learned which I will continue to do…So thank you.”
I felt proud of her, and proud of the work we do at MCH. We love to feel the deep connection that has lasted over the years and feel proud of who we see before us.
We are inviting a group of young alumni to join us for a Q&A panel in mid-December. I’m hoping lots of folks can join us to hear directly from them how deep the connection is, and how an MCH education contributed to their lives.
This morning in the pouring rain, an Upper Elementary student asked me about recess. He said, "So, with this rain, are we going outside for recess?" Trepidation and hope struggled for dominance in his voice.
"Yes!" I said. "We always go outside unless it's so cold and rainy that people feel genuinely miserable."
He nodded, smiling, and turned away to talk to his friend about their recess plans. He turned back to me to ask, "What about my grammar assignment? Can I still go outside to do that?"
"Yes!" I said. "Just find a comfortable place to sit while you're working. Think about finding shelter or taking an umbrella."
The look of delight on his face - delight in the idea of going outside into the deluge to do his language arts work - was simultaneously remarkable and normal. Business as usual for these kids!
We go outside at every opportunity. We send kids outside as often as possible. We organize lessons that link us to the natural world, encourage free time in nature, and also invite the children to find ways to get out of the classroom. There is a world to explore. There is rain to feel, wet paper to deal with, mud, orange leaves and more!
This is an approach we embrace. It's part of our identity as a school. It's also part of how we nurture creativity, connection, resilience and flexibility. Unpredictable things happen outside more often than inside. Nature creates opportunity.