“Can you think of anything better than to have our children tell our history?” asks Connie Hildahl, of the Longbranch Improvement Club (LIC).
On June 5, 24 third-, fourth-and fifth-graders from Evergreen Elementary School will do just that in the form of a musical. Everyone is invited.
The evolution of the musical “The Story of the Down Key” stretches back more than a year.
Last spring, the LIC held a three-day fundraising event called The Down Key Festival.
One of the most popular performances was that of the music programs of the three elementary schools –– Evergreen, Vaughn and Minter Creek.
The schools’ students performed individually and then also sang together –– and those in the audience described it as “magical.”Donations for the performance were distributed to the music programs at each of the schools.
Hildahl is active in the Key Peninsula Historical Society and a former teacher on the Key Peninsula, wanted to do more. She loves both bringing local history to students and supporting education, and began to think about how to bring those passions together. When she approached Teri Hammon, the music teacher at Evergreen, the seed was planted.
Hildahl and Voski Sprague would write a script and Hammon would compose the music.
Over several months, the authors met several times a week to craft the script. They used the book “Early Days on the Key Peninsula” by R.T. Arledge as a source, and concentrated on events taking place on the south Key Peninsula.
“If we had included the entire Key Peninsula, the play would have been far too long,”said Hildahl. As the script evolved, Hammon composed the music and the three met to collaborate as the play took its final shape.
Hammon, who has taught music at Evergreen for nearly two decades, includes song and dance in her curriculum. Students learn to read music and play xylophones, recorders and various small percussion instruments.
The musical production has been a work of collaboration.The Bluegrass Minstrels, a local Key Peninsula band, will provide music. The Angel Guild, members of the Evergreen staff and Key Peninsula resident Vickie Shurr have provided costumes. Sylvia Wilson, artist and Vaughn Elementary teacher, has been invaluable in assisting with set designand materials, lighting and costuming.
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