Parnell named VIP person of the year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Through a major grant project, several students from seven city and county schools spent this year working with their teachers to create original theatre scripts and learn about the art of drama and public speaking.

Ten students from each class involved in the grant project will present their works to an audience of public officials, along with the Selma arts community, at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at J.A. Pickard Auditorium.

The Readers Theatre Blitz is the culmination of the year-long project funded by the Alabama State Arts Council, International Paper, Selma Kiwanis Club, the City of Selma, and the Selma Dallas Arts Council.

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The grant was conceived and administered by Marsha Carmichael, a teacher at C.H.A.T. Academy, with the help of Selma Dallas Arts Council director Sandy Greene and the John F. Kennedy Center’s national program Partners in the Arts.

“The Selma Dallas Arts Council has been partners with the Kennedy Center since 1996,” Green said. “We are one of only four counties that partner with the Kennedy Center.” Since December, participating teachers and students have been writing curriculum-based theatre scripts with the assistance of national educational drama specialist Dr. Rosalind Flynn.

Flynn conducted professional development workshops with participating teachers, and then visited each classroom to introduce Readers Theatre and help them begin their scripts.

“The scripts are written as a group,” Flynn said. “The teachers pick a topic, then everyone has to brainstorm ideas and think theatrically. They have to find a way to introduce a subject in a way that both entertains and informs.”

Flynn said the scripts are based on curriculum, using topics like the nine plants, mathematical order of operations, conflict in literature, contributions of African Americans, the transcontinental railroad, the novel The Watsons Go To Birmingham, and motivations for reading books. “The students are completely involved in the whole process,” Greene said. “They write, direct and produce the whole play.”

The main goal of curriculum-based Reading Theatre is to merge drama, theatre, writing, reading, speaking, listening, and content learning in the classroom.

Following their morning program at Pickard Auditorium, students will then perform for the School of Discovery, Paul Grist YMCA, Clark Elementary and at the First Presbyterian Community Luncheon.

The participating teachers and schools in the curriculum-based Readers Theater are: Becky Nichols at the School of Discovery, Lisa Morenzoni at C.H.A.T. Academy, Angela Christian at Meadowview Elementary, Amy Reeves at Dallas County High, Leigh Chappelle at Knox Elementary, Yolanda Hall at B.K. Craig Elementary, and Alicia Smitherman at Byrd Elementary.