Janesville35.6°

Edison Middle School ends summer with play built from the ground up

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Catherine W. Idzerda
August 14, 2010
— One moment you’re wandering around, looking for your charming prince, and the next you’re a goat.

Life’s like that.


On Friday morning, Edison Middle School students were busy changing princesses into goats behind an elaborate set they built as part of a play they were putting on for the kids from the YWCA’s day care.


Here’s the best part.


“We got to use the nail gun,” said Trevor Cheney.


Well, not during the play itself—although that would have been cool, too.


The show was the culmination of a three-week summer school program for students entering sixth, seventh and eighth grade at Edison.


“We had summer school a little bit later this year,” said Jim LeMire, Edison principal. “That way, the kids can hit the ground running.”


Summer school means reading, math and a class called “community studies” that appears to be a combination of civics, history and language arts.


During class, the kids learned how medieval castles worked together as a community.


They also learned about community services in Janesville, took a tour of the YWCA Care House and collected items for the day care center.


In the wacky way that educators have of tying everything together, the YWCA Care House became a service project, and the castle became a set built for a play to entertain the kids from the YWCA’s day care center.


“The kids measured everything and framed it up,” said Craig Bergum, teacher and nail gun owner.


Yes, they did learn “measure twice, cut once.”


Each class section built a piece of the three-part theater. Peaked towers rose above the line of boxy crenellations, the niches cut out of castle walls for firing arrows at invaders.


Not that anybody was firing arrows.


The play was called “The Contest of the Fairies,” and its plot line involved Prince Tom and Prince Jim, several kingdoms, Prince Christopher—no relation to the two first princes—several beautiful princesses, a chambermaid and one of the best spells ever cast: “Gobbering soats and root beer floats, turn these fair maidens into hovering goats.”


Cheney, who will be 12 years old on Sunday and in seventh grade in the fall, acknowledged the play was fun, but the hammering, nailing, drilling and assorted construction work was more to his taste.


Nobody told him he was learning.


Edgar Lopez, 12, who also will be in seventh grade, liked the building part, too. It’s something he enjoys doing with his dad.


“My dad comes home from work and says, ‘Wanna build something?’” Lopez said.


Both Lopez and Cheney said learning their lines was the most difficult task.


“We had, like, one day,” said Lopez.


Megan Stageman, 11, who will be in sixth grade this fall, said she was happy with performance as the narrator.


“I’m shy a lot,” Stageman said. “Nobody wants to be the narrator, they just read. I was glad to be the narrator.”


Sure, sure, she liked working with tools, but that was sort of old news.


She and her dad have made wooden cars together and fixed up the “vents” for the windows in their home.


As she sat in the swelter of the Edison gym, she explained how those “vents” worked in her own personal castle.


“As soon as the sun comes up, my dad gets up and turns the fan off and turns it around and makes it blow the other way,” Stageman said. “We’ve got a fan in my room that blows air in and another, on the other side of the house, that blows the air out.”


Modern princesses—and modern narrators—need to know how to keep their cool, both on-stage and off.



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