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Published: Wednesday, 4/20/2011

St. Rose students entertain seniors

Reading week marked with theatrical flair

Marion Wright, Jeanne Quinlivan, and Rose Williams, from left, watch students perform Right-to-Read Week entertainment at St. Rose School. Marion Wright, Jeanne Quinlivan, and Rose Williams, from left, watch students perform Right-to-Read Week entertainment at St. Rose School.
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Little Greebo Moonhead was getting miffed. An Everything Machine on his planet had stopped working.

Before it broke down, that machine did everything for everybody, including coloring Little Greebo Moonhead's coloring books.

"Who will color my books?" demanded Little Greebo, on this day portrayed by St. Rose School's student Logan Forbes who captured the audience's attention with his energetic role playing during a Reader's Theater presentation.

In the audience were several residents from Kingston Residence of Perrysburg, and they were tickled to be there for the Right-to-Read Week/National Library Week activity.

John Elk, 84, in particular, was touched by the stories told by the students, and he was entertained by the costumes and props. He was drawn in by the students' production of The Boy Who Drew Birds, a story about John James Audubon who became the first person in North America to band a bird to prove a complex theory of homing, the behavior that brings birds back to the same nest each year and their offspring to nests nearby.

Mr. Elk said he was active in the Audubon Society in Newark, Ohio, before moving to Perrysburg. As another class of students prepared for its presentation, Mr. Elk leaned over and commented on the Reader's Theater: "So far, so good."

Reader's Theater allows the printed word to come alive, said assistant principal Shelley Brossia who welcomed the visitors to the school in Perrysburg last week.

And with the St. Rose students in action, the printed words jumped, wiggled, shouted, hopped, chirped, and leaped off the pages.

Students seemed to relish their roles that allowed them to act like birds or frogs, a moose or a bug.

The Reader's Theater mixed humor with history, and in nearly all of the storytelling were underlying themes and messages.

Sarah Demczuk, 9, ponders her lines, and Megan Walters, 8, right, perform during Right-to-Read Week. Sarah Demczuk, 9, ponders her lines, and Megan Walters, 8, right, perform during Right-to-Read Week.
THE BLADE/LISA DUTTON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

First up was Patrick, the pink penguin who didn't like being different. So, he swam for seven days and seven nights to get to Africa where, he thought, he could fit in with pink flamingoes. Although he was warmly welcomed, his beak was the wrong shape for fishing and when flocks took off, he was left behind.

Alone and hungry, he went home where he shared his adventures with his classmates. Patrick then realized that being different isn't so bad.

George Jacob, 7, played Patrick, and said later that he learned more than just how to get up in front of people and bring words to life. "I learned friends will like you no matter what you look like or what you do," he said.

In one production, Molly Hunter, a fourth grader, portrayed Esther Morris, who was instrumental in gaining women's right to vote in the Wyoming Territory. She was the nation's first female justice of the peace. Molly called the story "cool. … We are learning about women's rights."

Shannon Mack's interest in birds came in handy when classmates needed stuffed birds for the presentation about young Audubon. "I really like birds," the 11-year-old said. "We have a lot of birds outside our home. We feed them sometimes in the winter," she said, clutching a cardinal, parrot, crow, and other birds inside a glittery hat that she had worn on stage.

Trisha Koelsch, Kingston activities director, noted that Mr. Elk and other residents are avid readers, and some regularly attend a book discussion group. The library she set up at Kingston has become popular.

The Reader's Theater presentation for the Kingston residents "was a win-win. Our residents love reading and they love the interaction with the younger people."

Sharon Moor, St. Rose's librarian, said students interact with Kingston residents several times a year, such as making Valentines for them. The week of reading activities at St. Rose concluded Friday with a "read-in" in the gym.

"All of the students were amazing. They really seemed to enjoy themselves and threw themselves into their parts," said Dorothy Wingerter, a Perrysburg resident.

Third-grade teacher Karen Willer said the Reader's Theater was a "wonderful experience. The kids were so excited."

And now, back to that Everything Machine. As Little Greebo Moonhead and other Quirkians tried to figure out how to cook their own food, clean their own clothes, and mow their own lawns, Kingston resident Mr. Elk joked that they could get married, triggering nods from nearby women seated nearby.

But in the end, the Quirkians found joy in life again as they did for themselves, such as Miss Cosmosis who had invited Mr. Galaxia over for Quirk casserole. Little Greebo Moonhead? He finished a painting with his own hands.

After some retooling, the Everything Machine was retired to a new park, and was available to do the one job that could be the most difficult of all ... back scratching.

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